For those who make a living working outside, braving Washington’s heat was a badge of honor. Workers toiled hard in the sun on one downtown street, wearing headphones against the noise of a jackhammer as they busted up pavement and poured concrete for a parking garage that will benefit the town’s air-conditioned classes.
“I used to work as an office assistant in Rockville, doing data entry. It got boring,” said Levi Gomez, 35, a carpenter supervising the garage job downtown. “I know the heat makes it tough out here, but you get used to it. I’m from El Salvador.”
In Montgomery County, the Dennis Avenue Health Center announced that it was closing because its air-conditioning units had stopped working. County officials said that the center’s staff will work at other locations but that all Friday appointments there were canceled.
Elsewhere in the region, Washingtonians seemed to be heeding all those e-mail and text alerts from local authorities. Fairfax County fire and police officials said that they fielded few calls Thursday and that there were no major health-related issues or power outages in the county.
“With all of the heat advisories, I think people are paying attention to it,” said Renee Stilwell, a county spokeswoman.
But some of those paying attention to Washington’s sizzler weren’t from the area.
Outside the White House gates, near Lafayette Square, where international television reporters congregate, Ayuko Hirano, a Nippon Television correspondent, stood erect before her cameraman, cradling a microphone and a digital device with a huge screen that read 42 degrees Celsius. (That would be more than 107 degrees Fahrenheit.)
“This kind of weather news is most interesting to people in Japan,” said Hirano, who usually covers the presidential election. “I spoke to my colleagues in New York, and they’re doing the same.”
Even for a story on the heat, Washingtonians can be tight-lipped in that super-secret-for-no-reason Washington way. Law enforcement authorities guarding the White House and Old Executive Office Building all declined to comment when asked for their feelings about the heat.
Near the Mall, south of the Old Executive Building, author Christopher Nowinski — who played football for Harvard, became a pro wrestler and then wrote a book about concussions and athletics — searched for a taxi. Dressed in a wool suit, he looked flustered. He needed to get to the airport so he could fly to Boston.