Temperature reaches 89 and 19-year record falls Demand for swimsuits, electricity also climbs

March 31, 1998|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The heat broke a 19-year record yesterday as it cranked up air conditioners, packed parks and inspired summerlike behavior for the fourth straight day.

The 89-degree reading at Baltimore-Washington International Airport broke the record of 87 set in 1979 and was 30 degrees above the normal high, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

The temperature hit 92 degrees at the Baltimore Custom House, but forecasters cautioned that the building's blacktopped roof sometimes throws off temperature readings.

Yesterday was the fourth straight day of 80-degree temperatures, a trend expected to continue for today's Orioles Opening Day game, with sunny skies and highs of 85 to 90 degrees, according to the weather service.

The heat is because of a warm air mass, or Bermuda High, that moved up the Atlantic Coast and arrived in Maryland on Friday, said Dewey Walston, a weather service meteorologist.

"It's like the kind of weather pattern that we normally see in June or July," Walston said.

Yesterday's heat turned up the demand for electrical power and turned people's thoughts toward summer.

About 430 employees at State Department of Education offices at 200 W. Baltimore St. were sent home at 3: 30 p.m. when the air-conditioning system quit in the 10-story building, a spokesman said.

"It just got incredibly hot," said Ronald A. Peiffer, assistant state school superintendent.

He said the air conditioning was expected to be working today.

Peggy Mulloy, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman, said BGE generated 7 percent more electricity over the past four days than it would normally generate at this time of year because of demand to cool shops and offices.

"These commercial buildings had to be kept relatively cool even over the weekend when they weren't occupied," she said.

The heat also meant increased sales of swimsuits and ice cream.

"The people were lined up out the door over the weekend," said Jessica Curran, a waitress at the Friendly's ice cream store and restaurant in the 7100 block of Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie.

Cy's Swimwear in Catonsville experienced a run on swimsuits yesterday, said Paul Delivuk, a store manager.

"We've been packed all day today and that's very unusual," Delivuk said.

Ocean City Coast Guard crews also were busy during the weekend, rescuing stranded boaters with dead engines and locating boaters reported missing, said Petty Officer Brett Geibel, a Coast Guard spokesman at the resort.

"We're not as busy as we would be in midsummer, but things are definitely picking up because of the weather," Geibel said.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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