It was 92 degrees yesterday, and there were only two kinds of Washingtonians: Those who sought out swimming pools, and those who did not.
"The heat is great for business," declared Washington Hilton Hotel pool manager Colleen Corrigan, who was working overtime taking telephone calls from would-be members.
"I had three lines going at the same time," she said.
Although summer is officially nearly two weeks away, yesterday's temperature suggested summer with a vengeance, pushing the mercury to just four degrees shy of a record for the date set in 1899. Pressing in on a high pressure system that brought hot, muggy air from the south, the heat is expected to subside today to the mid-80s, with more humidity and a chance of thundershowers predicted.
"If you can, I would stay out of the heat," cautioned National Weather Service forecaster Bob Oszajca. "I wouldn't overexert myself if I had to be out in it."
No, it wasn't a day for exertion, but rather a time to think about a tall, cool drink. That means ice, and at the Beverly Ice Co. in Northwest Washington, 10 tractor-trailer loads left the warehouse with more than 300,000 pounds of blocks and cubes, bound for freezers and tumblers around the city.
"The ice people are moving into high gear," said company owner Ted Beverly. "In fact, we've gone from third gear to fifth gear and missed fourth gear . . . . We're running flat out."
It wasn't hot enough to crowd a record with the power companies for electricity use -- that was set July 7 when the temperature hit 97 degrees. But it made you think.
"We usually need a good bout of two to three days of hot temperatures, spiked with humidity to give that nice mix of dreadful feelings," said Potomac Electric Power Co. spokeswoman Nancy Moses.
Moses and officials at Virginia Power said both utilities had plenty more capacity and except for a transformer fire in Germantown that knocked out power to about 6,000 customers for two hours yesterday afternoon, the heat caused no reported damage.
In Prince William County, though, 13 schools closed early because of the heat yesterday, but officials planned to resume classes as scheduled today.
Andrew Carson, an owner of Action Service Co. in Landover, which specializes in emergency repairs on window-mounted air conditioners, watched business swell as the mercury rose. He logged a 50 percent increase in calls. "By noon, we were booked up till midnight," Carson said.
"Always the calls are desperate," he said. "They say, 'Please come. Please come . . . . ' "
Or, you could simply dip into your savings and plunk down $553 for a season at the Hilton, where, said manager Corrigan, the pool-side bar service sways even diehard beach fans.