Under a broiling late summer sun, the temperature reached the 90s here yesterday for the 59th time this superheated year, matching an all-time Washington weather record.

With today's high expected to range "around 90," and with no quick relief anticipated from the current heat wave, a new record could be set as soon as this afternoon.

The record for the number of days with readings of 90 or above set in 1966, is only one of many measures of misery that have been matched or exceeded here in this seemingly hottest of all the city's summers.

So far 23.6 percent of all the 250 days already passed this year have seen readings of 90 or higher -- including one in May, nine in June, a record-matching 21 in July and a record-setting 22 in August.

During the end of July and beginning of August, the area set a new record of 21 consecutive days in the 90s.

So far, there has not been a single day this month on which the temperature has failed to reach 90, and yesterday marked the 14th consecutive day of a new string of 90-degree days.

It's "very unusual," observed National Weather Service forecaster Alan Rezek, who noted that the normal high temperature for this time of year is 82.

Although it was four degrees below the record for the date, yesterday's high temperature of 94 degrees, set at National Airport at 2:40 p.m., was 12 degrees above normal.

While heat has persisted -- 54 of the 77 days thus far this summer have reached 90 or above -- rain has been elusive. No substantial rainfall has been recorded at the airport in 19 days -- not since the relatively modest .22 inches on August 18.