Heat index hits 112

Local hospitals treat 10 people for heat-related illnesses

Air quality is unhealthy

Record-breaking temperatures due for next two days

July 05, 1999|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Ten people were treated in Baltimore yesterday for heat-related illnesses as the temperature downtown reached 99 and the heat index 112.

Dangerously hot and humid weather -- with record-breaking temperatures and heat index levels reaching 115 -- is expected to continue across the region today and tomorrow, Dewey Walston, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sterling, Va., said yesterday.

Walston said a "cold" front Wednesday will bring temperatures down to about 90.

The Maryland Department of Environment issued a "code orange" air-quality ozone alert for today, urging those with heart or respiratory problems to limit activity and stay indoors.

The high at the Maryland Science Center was 99 degrees yesterday, one degree short of the Fourth of July record set in 1966. The heat index downtown was 112. Temperatures yesterday hit 107 in Centreville, 103 in Havre de Grace, 99 in Frederick, 98 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and 97 in Rock Hall.

"It's about as high as it ever gets," Walston said. "When you get above 115 around here, you're getting up to values that are pretty uncommon."

Nine people, including an elderly woman who suffered a heat-related seizure, were treated for heat-related problems at Good Samaritan Hospital in Northeast Baltimore and one at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Those treated at Good Samaritan ranged in age from 11 to 84 and were given fluids and kept in air-conditioned surroundings, said an admissions clerk. None was admitted.

"I think over the next couple of days, we'll see a lot more" cases of heat exhaustion, said Laurie McDonald, a Hopkins spokeswoman.

The National Weather Service forecast for today and tomorrow calls for hazy sunshine and record-breaking highs between 100 and 105 degrees, with heat index levels reaching 115. Lows tonight will be about 80.

Air quality is expected to remain unhealthy.

Ground-level ozone, which is caused primarily by cars, trucks, lawn mowers and other gasoline-powered garden equipment, can cause lung damage, eye irritation, coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

To prevent high levels of ozone from forming, the Maryland Department of Environment suggests that residents limit driving by combining errands, use public transportation or carpools, avoid mowing lawns with gas-powered mowers, and refuel vehicles after dusk.

Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said last night that electricity is sufficient to meet demand and that customers should use their air-conditioners to keep cool.

"We're not close to reaching a peak load," Brown said. "We're not in any situation where customers should be concerned about conserving.

"If it gets too hot and the load reaches that high, we'll let everybody know."

Sun staff writer Richard Irwin and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 7/05/99

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