Air quality deteriorated to "very unhealthy" levels and the temperature rose to 93 degrees in Washington yesterday, but officials declared no pollution alert because high-altitude winds are expected to "centilate" the atmosphere today.
The next result is that the air quality is expected to improve somewhat. But there is not letup in sight from weather that now has pushed Washington's temperature above 90 for seven consecutive days.
The National Weather Service forecasts afternoon and evening thundershowers today. Apart from that possibility, the outlook through Monday was for more hot, humid summertime.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said the air quality index for the area reached 115 at 3 p.m. yesterday. Readings above 100 are considered "very unhealthy." Persons with heart, lungs and eye ailments are urged to restrict their activities when readings reach these levels.
Officials said the high-altitude winds expected to remove mich of the pollution are associated with a cold front that is expected to pass to the north. Otherwide, the front is not expected to have an effect on Washington' weather.
The weathefr of the past week is the calling card of a Bermuda high, a swirling mass of tropical heat and humidity. Its stubborn winds have blocked the cool northwestern air that usually gives the area periodic relief from its summer misery.
"If we want to blame it on anything, we have to blame it on the Bermuda high," said Harold M. Hess a forecaster for the National Weather Service
The violent thunderstorms that have struck Washington repeatedly in August have provided little relief to the drought-stricken farmers of Virginia and Maryland.
The rains in Virginia have been too scattered and have evaporated too quickly in the summer heat to aid parched crops and pasture, said Bob Schooley, statistician in charge of the Virginia Crop Reporting Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
An agriculture survey released Monday by Schooley's office reported inadequate topsoil mositure in 96 per cent of land studied in Virginia.
In Maryland, dry conditions continued in the eastern two-thirds of the state, and "moisture stress" is showing in all of the state's crops, aid Bill Blackson, an agricultural statistician at Agriculture's Maryland-Delaware Crop Reporting Service.
Blackson added that recent thunderstorms have kept the state's drier areas "out of a drought situation. These downpours are just enought to keep the crops from getting worse."
Although a thunderstorm may drop several inches of rain in a brief period, Blackson said, much of the water is carried away as runoff and does not reach thirsty crops.
Electricity consumption in the metropolitan area has been "quite substantial" since the record high temperatures of July, Pepco and Vepro officials said. Both companies have adequate fuel reserves and facilities to handle the demand, the officials said.
Pepco is a member of the PJM network, an association of electric companies in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland that can supply power to areas within the network if the need arises, according to Pepco spokeswoman Gail Butler.
Vepco spokesmen said the company has at least a two-month supply of reserve fuel and can handle current demands with no difficulty.