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97 degrees just a warm-up; triple-digit temperatures possible

By Kevin Sieff
Tuesday, July 6, 2010; B02

Vinnie Ruddy came to Washington from New York to enjoy the fireworks at the Mall. But the stifling heat meant he spent most of Sunday, and the rest of his trip, inside.

"I never thought it would be this hot," Ruddy said on his way out of the National Museum of Natural History.

"I only brought one pair of shorts," he added, "and I've been wearing them all weekend."

Tourists like Ruddy trudged through the near-100 degree heat Monday, finding shelter in museums and restaurants. At the National Zoo, children played under misters to cool down. And some fishermen hopped right into the Potomac River.

Monday's high temperature of 98 degrees at Reagan National Airport was several degrees shy of the record of 102 degrees set in 1999. (Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport registered a high of 98 Monday, while Dulles International Airport hit 96).

Tuesday and Wednesday, temperatures in the Washington area are expected to reach into the triple digits.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory through Wednesday, reminding people to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks in the shade during the hottest part of the day. That is especially important for children and the elderly.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments declared Monday's air-quality "unhealthy," in part because of the effect of heat and sunlight on ground-level smog or ozone gas. The council is forecasting that air quality through Thursday will be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the elderly.

Warnings aside, Prosper Daziorlor, a security guard for the Business Improvement District, worked his 10-hour shift outside in the 1500 block of K Street NW on Monday.

He spent much of the day in the shade, holding onto a large cup of ice, chewing one cube after the next.

"I thought I knew heat in Africa, but there, it never got this hot," said Daziorlor, who is from Ghana. "But I'll take it over the snow any day."

Staff writer Phillip Lucas contributed to this report.

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