The Washington area sweltered through the hottest day in nearly three years yesterday, with temperatures reaching 101 degrees and breaking a century-old record for the date.

Yesterday's high, recorded at 4:05 p.m. at National Airport, broke an earlier mark of 100 degrees set in 1874. It was the first time this summer that temperatures climbed to 100 or higher, and the first time since Sept 2, 1980, when the mercury hit 101 degrees.

Washington's suburbs were even hotter, with 105 degrees recorded at Fort Belvoir and 103 at Dulles International Airport. Baltimore reported a temperature of 105 degrees late yesterday afternoon, an all-time-high recording for Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Record temperatures were recorded at more than a dozen eastern cities yesterday, according to the National Weather Service, which said that the 105 reading in Baltimore tied the mark as the second highest temperature recorded in the city since the service began keeping records in 1873.

Today, according to the weather service, temperatures should be cooler, with highs around 94. Monday should be about the same. With the remains of tropical storm Alicia moving slowly northeast, the Washington area may receive some rain by Tuesday, according to forecasters.

Though the temperatures reached record-breaking highs yesterday, neither Vepco nor Pepco reported having any problems that might have resulted from increased use of air conditioners or window fans.

Temperatures reached 104 degrees in Roanoke, exceeding the old record for the date of 96 degrees set in 1963, and equaling the record high temperature for that city set in July 1954. In Richmond, a record for the date, 102 degrees, also was set.

The old record for the date was 98 degrees, set in 1921.