High heat sears region

Wave expected for next few days, forecasters say

June 08, 2008|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun Reporter

Summer arrived with a wallop yesterday, even if two weeks early.

A heat wave that is expected to hover over much of the Eastern Seaboard for the next few days sent temperatures to a near-record high, bringing strenuous activity to a standstill, driving up bottled water sales and making swimming pools the most popular places in town.

The National Weather Service said it reached 95 degrees at BWI Marshall Airport, one degree shy of 1999's record and 14 degrees above normal, said forecaster Rich Hitchens.

A dispatcher for the Baltimore Fire Department said in midafternoon that several people had called reporting they were feeling ill, most likely because of excessive heat, and that ambulances had been sent to care for them. But, she said, there was no rash of heat-related emergencies.

In Liberty Heights, a sidewalk vendor was overcome while selling graduation plaques and other items of the season, said a paramedic at Engine 21 on Roland Avenue in Hampden.

"He had to give it up and take a loss for the day," said the paramedic, who asked not to be identified because he said he is not permitted to speak to the media. He said he also helped an 85-year-old woman who had been watching a softball game at the Gilman School in North Baltimore. The woman, a visitor from Florida, felt woozy from the heat, he said, but did not require treatment at a hospital.

Calls to emergency rooms in three hospitals - Johns Hopkins, Harbor and Union Memorial - showed no cases of heat stroke or heat exhaustion by late afternoon. But in a sign that people were avoiding the heat, the unshaded tennis courts at the Valley Country Club in Ruxton were empty. The crowd of poolgoers there, however, swelled as the morning wore on.

Children, slathered in sunscreen, spent hours at a time in the club's two pools, as the adults supervising them made repeated trips for refreshments.

The National Weather Service announced that an excessive-heat watch would remain in effect through this afternoon. It said a so-called "Bermuda high" - an area of high pressure off the U.S. coast that normally centers around Bermuda - is responsible for the heat and humidity.

The weather service predicted highs in the mid- to upper 90s today and tomorrow. A few locations are expected to reach 100 degrees.

Tuesday's high in Baltimore is predicted to be 93 degrees, and 89 on Wednesday.

Some people weren't bothered.

"I like it hot," said Bisa Gray, a vendor of art and collectibles at a flea market on North Avenue, although she conceded that fewer people had come out to shop than did a month ago, during the market's first outing of the year. Her husband, Kwesi Gray, did not seem as sanguine about the sweltering afternoon.

"Even the people who did show up today," he said, as he mopped his brow, "were saying how hot it was."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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