Record heat wave closes Harford, Caroline schools

April 18, 2002|By Lane Harvey Brown and Frank D. Roylance | Lane Harvey Brown and Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

The record-breaking April heat wave forced public schools in Harford and Caroline counties to close about two hours early yesterday as administrators activated air-conditioning systems weeks ahead of schedule.

The temperature climbed to 93 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport just before 2 p.m. yesterday. That was 28 degrees above normal for the date, wilting the old record of 90 degrees, set in 1976.

The high at the Inner Harbor was 94 degrees. Counts of tree pollen were high, adding to the misery for many.

A decision on whether to close Harford schools early today was to be announced this morning on radio and television, school officials said.

Caroline County students were scheduled for a half day of school today, said Larry W. Lorton, schools superintendent. A decision on whether to close early tomorrow will likely be made today.

Many of the schools in the two counties were built with windows that cannot be opened, officials said. While such windows are more energy-efficient, heat builds quickly without air-conditioning.

Don Morrison, spokesman for Harford schools, said the switch from heating to air-conditioning - which takes several hours in each school - generally is not made until the end of April or early May.

Teachers and students should find things a bit cooler for the rest of the week.

The forecast called for highs of 85 degrees at BWI today and tomorrow, cooling to a near-normal 62 degrees by Sunday, with a chance for showers each day.

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