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Heat records continue to fall in D.C. area

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By Jason Samenow
Saturday, September 25, 2010; 12:44 AM

After one of the hottest summers ever in the Washington-Baltimore region, heat records continued to fall Friday, two days after autumn's arrival.

The temperature at Reagan National Airport, Washington's official observing station, soared to 99 degrees, blazing past the record of 94 set in 1970. The 99-degree reading at the airport is the highest on record this late in the year and the hottest temperature ever recorded after Sept. 8.

Dulles Airport also set a record Friday, reaching 97 degrees, which topped the record of 92 from 1970. Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, where the temperature climbed to 95, tied its record, also set in 1970.

The record at Dulles was its third in as many days. On Wednesday, the airport tied the record high of 94 degrees, reached in 1970 and 1980. And on Thursday, the temperature reached 93 degrees, tying the record set in 2005. Through Friday, Dulles has reached 90 degrees or higher on 57 days in 2010, the most on record. The previous record for 90-or-above days in a calendar year at Dulles was 55 in 1980. Baltimore broke its 1988 record for 90-or-above days - 55 - on Sept. 7 and now has 58.

The record year for 90-or-above days at Reagan National is still 1980, which had 67 of them. Through Friday, Reagan National was just one shy of that, at 66.

The Capital Weather Gang's forecast for Saturday calls for highs in the mid- to upper 80s, with a 40 percent chance of reaching 90 and tying the 1980 record.

The latest it has reached 90 or higher at Reagan National is Oct. 11, but the odds of this happening in coming weeks decrease dramatically as days shorten and the average high falls from the mid-70s in late September to below 70 by mid-October.

This summer has brought relentless heat across the region, three rounds of severe thunderstorms in July and August, and developing drought conditions this month. This combination earned Washington the unenviable distinction of being named the city with the country's worst weather this summer by the Weather Channel. The District beat out Little Rock (2), Des Moines (3), Brownsville, Tex. (4), and Los Angeles (5).

The hot weather in the region has been caused by a pattern of persistent high pressure to the south that has pumped tropical air northward.

Cooler air is expected in the region Sunday, lasting into next week, with predicted highs in the 70s and some opportunities for much-needed rain. Although forecasting beyond that time is tricky, weather patterns for the next one to two weeks do not appear favorable for more record heat.

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