Better Settle In For a Sizzler

A Sterling Volunteer Fire Department crew helps cool off youngsters during a flag-football fundraiser at Park View High School.
A Sterling Volunteer Fire Department crew helps cool off youngsters during a flag-football fundraiser at Park View High School. (By Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post)
By Michael E. Ruane and Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 17, 2006

Tony Brumley looked wilted. His face was crimson and dappled with perspiration. His wife, Colleen, looked parched. So did the kids, Daniel and Isabelle. And when Brumley rested the palm of his hand on the sun-baked granite of the National World War II Memorial yesterday, he yanked it back.

"Ow," he said. That was hot, too.

As the Brumleys, from Novi, Mich., and other tourists on the Mall discovered, the Washington area is predicted to plunge into its fiercest summer heat in four years.

After a June that had record rain and water seemingly everywhere, the National Weather Service issued heat advisories yesterday for the District, Arlington County, Alexandria, Falls Church, Baltimore and parts of Maryland's Eastern Shore. Forecasters said the region will have searing temperatures near 100, heat indexes well over 100 and probably no break through the weekend.

The cause is a vast high-pressure system that has baked much of the nation and is drifting out over the ocean. The heat and humidity should soar today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, creating potentially hazardous conditions. Air quality is forecast to be at unhealthy levels for people in sensitive groups, including children, the elderly and those with heart or respiratory ailments.

The weather service urged people who go outside to drink plenty of fluids, try to stay out of the sun and never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows open.

The high today is forecast to be around 100. The heat index -- a combined measure of heat and humidity that is supposed to reflect how it feels -- could reach 102. Tomorrow's high should be about 98, but higher humidity could push the index to 106.

Today and tomorrow are expected to be Code Orange days for air quality because of higher ozone levels, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

This probably will be the longest and hottest local heat wave since summer 2002, when the mercury hit 95 or higher for eight straight days in mid-August, according to weather service meteorologist Roger Smith.

Because of the heat advisory, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles planned to open its inspection center, at 1001 Half St. SW, an hour earlier and close five hours earlier than usual. Spokeswoman Janice Hazel said the special hours at the outdoor facility, 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be used through Wednesday. Other DMV service centers, which are indoors, will maintain their usual hours.

In the District, on days when the heat index reaches 95 degrees, street showers will be opened across the city, public swimming pool hours will be extended to 9 p.m. and electric fans will be provided to vulnerable low-income residents.

In addition, cooling centers will be opened in senior citizen facilities, city government buildings and other locations.

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