D.C. area residents' nerves hit boiling point on third straight day of searing heat

Thursday was Day Five of the current heat wave and put the 28th day at or above 90 degrees this year in the books.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 8, 2010

The capital of Wednesday's weather misery, the crossroads of heat and stink and dust, might well have been the bus shelter on the southwestern corner of 14th and U streets in Northwest Washington.

There, about noon, with the temperature at 99, the intersection reeking of cooking grease spilled from a trash truck and street sweepers raising clouds of dust, a Metrobus pulled up with its destination sign reading: "Not in service."

At this, Monica Bowles lost it. "It's ridiculous," she shouted over the noise of the bus engine. "It's driving people crazy . . . then you jack the prices up on these buses. And then we sit out here in the heat and suffer."

Bowles, of Columbia Heights, spoke for many in the Washington region Wednesday who had just about had it with the blistering weather of recent days and its attendant torments.

On the third consecutive day of searing heat that stretched from North Carolina to Massachusetts, Washington area temperature records fell again, a heat-related death was reported in Baltimore and utilities begged consumers to cut back on electricity use.

And with the ground parched and dusty and many suburban lawns brown and dry, forecasters said drought loomed if the area doesn't get some rain soon.

Sections of the District and Southern Maryland are in moderate drought conditions, said Dan Stillman of washingtonpost.com's Capital Weather Gang.

There is some prospect of showers, starting Thursday, Stillman said, and more so with a front that is expected to move through the area Friday into Saturday.

But the highs for Thursday are forecast to be in the mid-90s, and evidence of the heat's effects abounded across the region Wednesday.

Authorities in Prince George's County said they had taken 28 people to area hospitals over the past five days for heat-related illnesses. Maryland health officials said a Baltimore resident died this week because of the heat. Hot weather has contributed to eight Maryland deaths this season, including three in the past two weeks, authorities said.

The District has had one heat death this season, and Virginia had three late last month, officials said.

In Annapolis, the U.S. Naval Academy reported that four midshipmen who had just completed an obstacle course required medical attention for heat exhaustion, the Associated Press reported.

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