Despite falling short of the historic high, the nation’s capital notched at least three heat-related marks Saturday: It was the hottest day of the year and easily topped the previous high for July 7: 102 degrees. Saturday was also a record 10th-straight day with a high temperature above 95 degrees.
“It has been truly exceptional,” said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, which records Washington’s official temperature at Reagan National Airport. “We made a quick run for the triple-digit mark: The temperature hit 100 degrees just before noon.”
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang offered a smidgen of solace for those praying for relief. On Sunday, the area’s humid highs are expected to range between 95 and 100 degrees before an emerging cold front sets off afternoon storms that could be severe. By Monday, the region will be seeing temperatures in the normal range of the mid-to-upper 80s.
On Saturday, area officials continued measures begun early in the heat wave, opening libraries and schools as cooling shelters and going door-to-door in some places to check on residents.
Meanwhile, utility crews struggled to restore power to several thousand customers, many without electricity since exceptionally violent thunderstorms swept through the region June 29. Although hospitals and local officials did not report many heat-related illnesses, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said his state recorded the 10th heat-related death reported since the storm, bringing the region’s toll to 13.
As the temperature surged, Washington area residents adapted, escaped or simply ignored the ovenlike air. Through it all, people kept an eye on computers, smartphones and backyard thermometers, measuring the day’s progress in degrees as much as hours or minutes.
It all began before sunrise.
5 a.m., 82 degrees
Sonja Harrison didn’t waste any time getting her Land Rover inspected. She was in line before dawn at the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles inspection station in Southwest Washington, which opened and closed an hour early — at 5 a.m. and 1 p.m. — in an effort to protect employees and customers from the looming heat.
“I wanted to avoid the lines and save the air conditioning in my car and my gas bill,” said Harrison, 42. “I decided to get up early this morning. I thought it was worth it.”
10 a.m., 92 degrees
The moment the mall opened, Bob Lund was there.
But he wasn’t visiting Tysons Corner for a door-busting sale. He ambled through the glass doors and into the mall’s hermetically sealed and perfectly cool environment. Then the Arlington County resident plopped himself on a leather chair outside the Barnes & Noble bookstore and whipped out a mystery novel.