'It Feels Like 100 or 120,' but Relief for D.C. Area Near

Steven LaSalle of Puerto Rico carries his tired daughter Tiffanie, 4, near the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Officials issued a Code Orange air-quality alert yesterday, but temperatures are forecast to drop to the mid-80s Thursday.
Steven LaSalle of Puerto Rico carries his tired daughter Tiffanie, 4, near the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Officials issued a Code Orange air-quality alert yesterday, but temperatures are forecast to drop to the mid-80s Thursday. (By Michel Du Cille -- Post)
By Sue Anne Pressley Montes and Mariana Minaya
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Washington area endured another round of a mini-heat wave yesterday that sent temperatures into the upper 90s, forced officials to issue warnings about unhealthy air quality -- and brought a fresh appreciation for the wonders of modern air conditioning.

It was hot, very hot: Sweat glistened on the faces of determined tourists; ice melted quickly in vendors' carts. Drivers at taxi stands kept their windows tightly shut and their motors -- and air conditioners -- running and construction workers downed an endless series of cold drinks.

"We have to stay hydrated. . . . It's freakin' hot. It feels like 100 or 120," said electrician Abdul Keita at a construction site at 14th Street and Park Road NW. Keita, who was working on a big cup of iced tea, thinks he consumes nearly a half-gallon of liquid during an eight-hour shift.

It was easy to believe that it felt like 100. The high temperature at Reagan National Airport was 98.

In Leesburg, Kim Margaros, 42, a personal trainer, took her sons Nick, 12, and Jack, 7, to the indoor pool at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center. "It's too hot to go to my neighborhood [outdoor] pool," Margaros said. "We can stay here longer."

Neither Pepco nor Dominion Virginia Power reported weather-related outages yesterday, spokesmen said. Metro track inspectors reported nothing problematic, but Metro canceled all daytime heavy track maintenance because of the high temperatures, spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

A Code Orange day indicating unhealthy air quality was declared in the region for yesterday and today. On such days, the main pollutant, ground-level ozone gas, develops when hot weather cooks a mixture of pollutants from exhaust fumes, power plant smoke and other sources.

Joan Rohlfs of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which issues the forecasts, said part of today's problem will be light winds, which will not be enough to disperse pollution produced here. She said that people sensitive to bad air should limit their time outside today and that everyone should try to curtail pollution by driving as little as possible.

But there also was good news on the heat-hazed horizon. Forecasters said the hot spell would be relatively short-lived as a cold front late tomorrow promises lower temperatures (with highs in the mid-80s) and lower humidity by Thursday.

"That should bring us a nice cool-down," Sarah Rogowski, a general forecaster with the National Weather Service, said.

To help District residents cope, the government opened cooling centers yesterday at four locations.

A woman who said she was a resident of the D.C. Village Family Emergency Shelter said efforts to repair the air-conditioning system there have been unavailing. Buses were provided to keep residents cool until midnight, she said.


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