"Suffocating." "Intolerable." "Unbearable." "Gross." And those were some of the milder comments.

What they were all about is that it's still hot out there, with a persistent Bermuda high pressure system continuing to blanket the region with a soggy combination of the kind of elements that are the hallmark of summer in Washington.

Yesterday's high temperature was a sticky 94 degrees, with humidity readings edging up to 71 percent at one point during the day, according to the National Weather Service. Today's projected high is 93 degrees, with humidity readings ranging at or above the 50 percent level as the system of warm, moist air remains stalled over the area with no winds in prospect to move it on.

But the temperature may drop four or five degrees late tonight and tomorrow, according to Charles Chilton of the National Weather Service, as a cool air front moves into this area out of Canada, bringing with it cloudiness and the kind of shower activity that hit the Washington area yesterday evening. But later this week, temperatures are expected to soar once again into the high 90s.

Yesterday's showers passed through the area quickly, dropping temperatures in some areas by as much as 20 degrees in a short time. But forecasters said the relief was short-lived. Area power companies reported a few power interruptions during the storm, but spokesmen said service was quickly restored in most cases.

"O-pressive," said attorney Colleen Conlin, who braved the heat wave yesterday to stroll down Connecticut Avenue with a friend, Tom Davis. "She's gotten much more irritable, I've noticed," Davis said.

Conlin wasn't the only edgy one. In the Southeast and Northeast parts of the city, suffering residents opened so many fire hydrants over the weekend that water pressure dropped markedly to a point where many homes were without water on upper floors.

Kazys Vasaitis, chief of the city's water distribution division, said his office received 72 complaints from people who either had no water at all or very low pressure, and 92 calls reporting running hydrants. The recently opened Health Care Institute at the Center for Aging of the Greater Southeast Community Hospital Foundation, at 1380 Southern Ave. SE, reported a loss of water pressure on its second floor for about two hours.

Richard Barovick, editor and publisher of International Trade and Investment Newsletter, said he stays comfortable with self discipline and determination. "In my business, you've got to keep cool," Barovick said.

But others downtown yesterday were of a different mood. "I get a splitting headache in this weather," said paralegal Carl Frank. "I've had one now for a week and a half."

Courier Jack Evans is in shock from memories of a vacation in San Francisco. "There was real air there, no humidity and no pollution," he said. "There is no real air here, there's pollution and the humidity is intolerable."

Does it grow easier to bear Washington summers the longer one is here? "No," said Pat McGuire, a facilities manager for MCI who has lived here for 39 years. "We just become more philosophical."

"I leave town as often as possible," McGuire said. "And you know that if it's August, about the only thing you can do is wait for September."