By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2010; B08
This season's searing heat has contributed to 26 deaths in Maryland, state officials said Monday. The toll is greater than the numbers for 2009 and 2008 combined.
Of the 26 heat-related deaths, 17 involved people who were found in homes without air conditioning, with temperatures above 90 degrees, said Karen Black, a state health department spokeswoman.
The heat-death figures come as Washington has begun what forecasters agree will be an extended spell of relatively cool weather.
The National Weather Service forecast predicts that high temperatures will be in the 70s or 80s every day through at least Aug. 30.
With Saturday, Sunday and Monday included, that would make for a period of 10 consecutive days below 90. Such a stretch would be the first of its kind since the 16th through 25th of May.
It would also raise the possibility that August could end next week without any more of the often-deplored 90-degree days that became unpleasantly commonplace this summer.
The weather service forecast for Tuesday calls for a high temperature in the lower 70s.
Such a high could make the day Washington's coolest in the last 93. Highs have been above 74 every day since May 23.
Summer heat can intensify summer storms, and this summer has been notable for both heat and storms.
Not surprisingly, the weather service reported last week that the damaging storms of Aug. 12 apparently included a small tornado and wind gusts of hurricane force.
The weather service reported that the small tornado struck just south of Unionville in Frederick County. Its peak winds were 80 miles per hour, the weather service reported.
In Montgomery County, the weather service said, a severe thunderstorm on the morning of Aug. 12 caused widespread tree damage in a small area near White Oak.
Snapped tree trunks in a stretch of Route 29 between Northwest Drive and Prelude Drive were "consistent with a localized swath of 80 to 90 mph winds," the weather service said.
In addition, the weather service said wind damage that morning in Gaithersburg "was consistent with a focused period of gusts of 80 to 90 mph."