From pools to frozen treats, hot residents beat the heat

Weather service issues advisory as temperature hits 94 downtown

Metro

News from around the Baltimore region

June 15, 2005|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,SUN STAFF

Short skirts. Sandals. Sleeveless tops.

On the afternoon of what felt like the hottest day of the year so far, many women used the sweltering heat yesterday as an opportunity to don their summer garb.

"I love it," said Shilpa Khushalani, 34, of Annapolis, whose work attire included flip-flops and a short blue skirt. "You can wear whatever you want."

Men such as David Kelley, 30, of Towson stood - or sweated - in contrast.

"It's a wool suit," he said, referring to his very black, very hot-looking pants. A long-sleeved shirt and red tie completed his outfit.

Forecasters predict temperatures will begin to dip tomorrow. But that was little solace for people looking to keep cool when the heat peaked yesterday at 94 degrees in downtown Baltimore, the hottest it's been all year in the city, where schools closed early.

The National Weather Service issued its first heat advisory of the year for the region yesterday. The warnings are triggered when the heat index hits 98 degrees - which means that because of the humidity, it feels like it's 98. Yesterday, the index hit 100. The advisory means people should drink plenty of water, stay in air-conditioned areas and check on the elderly and frail friends and relatives.

"We want to try to prevent fatalities," said weather service forecaster Richard Hitchens. "A lot of the rowhouses have black-tar roofs. Some aren't air-conditioned, and people keep them locked up tight."

Two people have died this year of heat-related illnesses, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The most recent was a 71-year-old Prince George's County woman who died Friday.

Relief is on the way in the form of a cold front moving in tomorrow night, which will bring more seasonable 80-degree highs, Hitchens said.

For Kelley, a midday ice cream break was all he needed yesterday to keep cool. A single scoop of butter pecan in a sugar cone, then the sweet relief of walking back into his air-conditioned office at Charles Schwab after baking outside, kept him from overheating.

"It's too hot, too humid," complained Jeanette Murphy, 72, who was at Towson Town Center with her husband. The retired Owings Mills couple decided to spend the day at the mall, shopping and avoiding the heat.

Murphy, who is from Casablanca, Morocco, and has lived in Maryland for 14 years, said she's still not used to the heat and humidity.

"When I was in Morocco, the weather never bothered me, but I was younger then," she said.

Others looked to the outdoors for ways to cool off.

In Carroll County, about 20 residents lined up at the Aloha snowball stand at the Westminster Shopping Center.

Karen Buell, 42, of Westminster and her daughter, Mandy, 12, had just finished planting flowers and decided to take a break with the flavored, shaved-ice dessert.

In Columbia, the River Hill outdoor pool was bustling with children and their parents.

"It's nice in there today," said parent Vicki Harvey of River Hill.

Then there were those who got stuck laboring outside yesterday instead of swimming or eating snowballs.

Pat Shaw of Towson worked with a crew of landscapers, weeding and trimming the grounds of Trinity Episcopal Church, where she is a member.

"It's a little too hot a little too soon," she said. But no matter how hot the weather, the work still has to get done. "We just have to drink more water."

Sun staff writers Tyrone Richardson, Grant Huang and Jill Stone contributed to this article.

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