Summer waved in days early

Temperature reaches 97 degrees at BWI, breaking record

No rain in forecast

June 09, 1999|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

Day two of 1999's spring heat wave clung to Maryland like bare legs on a plastic slipcover yesterday as a record temperature of 97 degrees hit Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the mercury in downtown Baltimore reached 98.

By contrast, the high for the same day a year ago was 74 degrees at BWI and 79 in Baltimore. The previous record for BWI was 95 degrees, set in 1984.

The August-like weather came our way on a high pressure system that normally centers over Bermuda but shifted this week to the eastern United States.

Although sunny skies will bring highs in the mid-90s today, a welcome cold front from the north is expected to arrive tonight, bringing daily highs down to the low-to-mid-80s through the weekend.

No rain is in the immediate forecast. The worsening drought -- nearly 16 inches below normal rainfall yesterday -- has become so bad that meteorologists sent out an advisory saying that only the unlikely prospect of a tropical cyclone could pull Maryland out of it.

Students from area schools were sent home early yesterday as temperatures hit 90 degrees before 11 a.m.

"The kids brought water bottles and are able to get a drink whenever they want to," said a school nurse at Overbrook Elementary School in Linthicum in Anne Arundel County, where schools closed early. "They [are having] quiet activities."

Hospitals reported a smattering of patients suffering from heat stroke. Concentrations of smog reached "code red" levels for the second day in a row.

Children, the elderly and people with heart conditions and breathing problems should drink plenty of fluids and stay inside, especially in air conditioning, on "code red" days.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. asked customers to reduce their use of electricity to help it cope with the increased use of air conditioners.

Air conditioning was not an option when Betty Levine of Towson was growing up in the World War II-era.

"We sat on the front porch where it was shady, or went down the cellar where it was cool," said Levine, who sells outdoor furniture for Stebbins Anderson.

"When it's this hot, we sell a lot more patio umbrellas and hammocks to string between trees. It's so hot my hair is curling."

Despite warnings to stay inside and avoid strenuous activity, Chris Armbruster, 38, of White Hall decided to dig a hole in his back yard yesterday and put up a pole for a satellite television dish.

"I told my wife it was so hot that the chickens were standing in line to get plucked," laughed Armbruster between swigs of Seltzer. "I had put off putting up that pole for four weeks and I had to get it up because the TV people are coming Friday, and this was my only day off."

Armbruster and his wife, Carol, who became parents a month ago with the birth of their daughter, Natalie, took a break to visit Towson Town Center and soak up the air conditioning.

"It was the baby's first adventure," said Armbruster. "We were getting a little stir crazy."

And summer is officially two weeks away.

Sun staff writers Howard Libit and Jackie Powder and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 6/09/99

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