4 hot, humid, hazy days to come, forecasters say This month about to become hottest May on city records.

May 30, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Hot, humid and hazy -- that's all there is on the weather menu PTC today, the sixth consecutive day of 90 degrees or more.

The only brief respite from the wilting heat is a thunderstorm that was given a 30 percent chance of occurring late this afternoon or evening. Otherwise, temperatures were expected to reach at least 92 degrees in the metropolitan region. It was already 85 by mid-morning at the airport.

And tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and Monday all appear to be shaping up the same way. As Harry Truman once said, if you can't stand the heat, go hang out at an air-conditioned mall.

The mercury bubbled up to 95 degrees yesterday in Baltimore as the region steamed into its unwelcomed sixth straight day of August-in-May.

With just one day left, this seems a cinch to go down as the hottest May on record in Baltimore, forecasters say.

A series of windy thunderstorms that rolled through yesterday evening brought little rain but knocked out power to 9,000 Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. customers. Falling trees and limbs cut power lines in parts of Baltimore and Carroll counties. All power was restored by 8 a.m., a utility spokesman said.

High temperatures and humidity, or failed air conditioning systems, forced the early closing of six Baltimore elementary schools yesterday. Some area hospitals reported a trickle of people seeking treatment for heat-related problems.

Franklin Square Hospital in eastern Baltimore County counted 20 patients treated in the emergency room over 24 hours for troubles ranging from sunburn to heat exhaustion and dehydration, said spokesman Fran Kelleher.

The heat even got to the "heat" yesterday, as a Baltimore police officer was overcome while on patrol in East Baltimore.

Southeastern District Officer Ronald Roberts, 44, a 19-year veteran, was stricken while getting out of his car to check the Signet Bank in the 5800 block of Eastern Ave.

"He felt woozy, and was leaning against his car," said Dennis Hill, a city police spokesman. "A female citizen saw him and asked if he was all right. He didn't respond and she grabbed his radio."

The woman managed to call for assistance and Roberts was on the ground when help arrived, Hill said. He was taken to Francis Scott Key Medical Center, where he was treated for dehydration and released.

After Roberts was diagnosed, officers citywide were encouraged to drink more water, Hill said.

The extended outlook through June 8 is for more of the same, with above-average temperatures and below average precipitation.

Yesterday's highs both downtown and at the airport fell short of the records for the date: 97 at BWI and 100 degrees downtown.

National Weather Service forecaster Amet Figueroa said yesterday that temperatures in May are averaging 69.1 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"Our record is 67.6 degrees, set in 1953. It looks pretty certain it will be broken," he said.

At the Customs House downtown, where weather records go back to 1871, the average so far this May is 72.9 degrees. "The old mark is 71.3 degrees, set in 1986. So it looks like that'll be broken, too," Figueroa said.

If temperatures top 90 degrees in Baltimore today, it will be the eighth day to reach 90 or more in May. That's another record at the airport, but a day shy of the nine-day record downtown, set in 1970.

Yesterday's heat forced city school officials to send students home from six elementary schools.

Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School students went home at 12:30 p.m. for the third straight school day while officials awaited completion of $25,000 in repairs to faulty air conditioning equipment.

Air conditioning also broke down yesterday at Federal Hill Elementary, and students went home at 11 a.m. George Street Elementary School closed at 12:15 p.m. due to a combination of roofing-tar fumes and heat.

Excessive heat also closed the Elmer A. Henderson, City Springs and Cecil Elementary schools at 1 p.m.

BG&E was having no trouble keeping up with record May demand for electrical power.

BG&E spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy said yesterday's unofficial peak reached 5,199 megawatts.

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