Temperatures are forecast to surge toward 100 degrees around Baltimore into the weekend amid oppressive humidity, prompting the National Weather Service to issue an excessive heat watch through the weekend and city officials to extend a “Code Red” heat advisory through Monday.
Starting Thursday, the city’s nonprofit partners will also open four additional cooling centers for residents, Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said at a City Hall news conference.
"I urge everyone to take this heat wave seriously, and if you don’t need to go outside, stay inside,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said at Thursday’s conference.
Thursday marked a week straight of 90-degree temperature days across the region, with highs reaching 92 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and 94 at the Inner Harbor. The hottest weather of the year came Tuesday and Wednesday, with highs of 95 and 98 degrees at BWI, the region’s point of record.
But it was expected to get hotter still — so hot that Archbishop William E. Lori told the region’s Catholics they can skip Mass this weekend.
The weather service warned the heat index could approach 110 degrees Friday and 115 over the weekend, and that it might not drop below the 80s or 90s in the overnight hours. The heat index factors in humidity, which makes it harder for the human body to regulate heat through sweating.
A heat advisory is in effect across the region Friday, indicating that the heat index is likely to reach 105 to 109 degrees. A “Code Orange” air quality alert is also in effect, indicating the heat is producing levels of smog considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, the elderly and people with heart or lung conditions.
On Saturday, air temperatures could hit the triple digits at BWI for the first time in three years.
“Prepare for extreme temperatures and high humidity which could result in heat illnesses,” the weather service warned.
Heat is dominating two-thirds of the United States as a large area of high pressure settles over the East, bringing sunshine and pumping in hot, humid air from the west and south.
An experimental weather service forecast projects that scores of high temperature records could be broken Thursday, Friday and Saturday across the country, according to the Associated Press. Record-breaking heat is possible but not likely in Baltimore. Record highs for July 18, 19 and 20 in Baltimore are 104, 103 and 102 degrees, respectively.
A “Code Red” heat advisory is in effect for Baltimore through Sunday, putting residents on alert for possible cases of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
Officials encourage residents to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and reduce outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They also recommends checking on older relatives and neighbors and watching out for signs of heat-related illnesses, including confusion, nausea, cool and clammy or dry and flushed skin, and rapid or slowed heartbeat.
The city will extend public pool hours over that period, and also open cooling centers. Such centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. over the weekend at:
- Northern Community Action Partnership Center, 5225 York Road;
- Southern Community Action Partnership Center, 606 Cherry Hill Road (closed Sunday);
- Northwest Community Action Partnership Center, 3939 Reisterstown Road;
- Southeast Community Action Partnership Center, 3411 Bank St.; and,
- Eastern Community Action Partnership Center, 1731 E. Chase St.
Other locations serving as cooling centers from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday:
- Waxter Center for Senior Citizens, 1000 Cathedral St.;
- Oliver Senior Center, 1700 Gay St.;
- Sandtown-Winchester Senior Center, 1601 N. Baker St.;
- Hatton Senior Center, 2825 Fait Ave.;
- John Booth/Hooper Senior Center, 2601 E. Baltimore St.;
- Zeta Center, 4501 Reisterstown Road; and,
- Harford Center, 4920 Harford Road.