Temperatures Headed Toward the Hundreds

Newton Lee and Jungeun Song brave the elements on the Mall while posing for their wedding portraits.
Newton Lee and Jungeun Song brave the elements on the Mall while posing for their wedding portraits. (By Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)
By Darragh Johnson and Delphine Schrank
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You thought yesterday was bad?

Today could be worse. A lot worse.

Oh, the air might feel a little less steamy. But the westerly winds that promise to dry things out also might heat things up. And up.

Compare: By midafternoon yesterday, the temperature was a mere 94 at Reagan National Airport. The air, though, felt like it was 103.

Today, the National Weather Service is predicting that it could actually be103; a more optimistic AccuWeather, which supplies information for The Washington Post's weather map, is shooting for a relatively cool 98.

One thing they do agree on is that a measure of relief is on the way. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 90s throughout the week but will moderate slowly.

"By Saturday, there will be much cooler air," National Weather Service meteorologist Luis Rosa said. And by "cooler," he meant "highs in the upper 80s," although AccuWeather forecast 90.

Yesterday indisputably marked the hottest (heat-indexed) day of the year: a day when a student passed out during band practice and office workers stayed in for lunch, when the hottest ticket in town was to an ice rink.

It was a day when the simple act of breathing was kind of dangerous.

Yesterday was a bookend of Code Orange alerts; during the morning and afternoon rush hours, the air quality was deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups -- children, older adults or people with respiratory or heart ailments. At midday, though, the air quality improved to "moderate," meaning it was unhealthy only for those who are, Jen Desimone with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said, "really, really sensitive."

For those who are really, really, really sensitive, Ronald Bortnick, medical director and vice president of medical affairs for Southern Maryland Hospital Center, had a prescription for the most effective remedy, better even than staying indoors all day:

"Hopping on a plane to Maine right now would be the best thing," he said.

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