Bearing Up In The Heat

Monday's Temperature Reached 97 Downtown, But Ever-so-slight Breeze Helped People Cope

August 11, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

The first Code Red heat alert of the summer on Monday proved no match for the record books - or for anybody who could find a little shade.

The temperature rose to 94 degrees at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport at 3:16 in the afternoon, well short of the record of 100 degrees set in 1900. In the city, the temperature reached 97 degrees at the Maryland Science Center at 3 p.m.

Cooler weather is expected later today.

City schools officials closed numerous buildings at 11 a.m. Monday. Senior centers promoted their air-conditioning, but directors said they noticed little, if any, additional foot traffic.

"The weather is hot, but it's not that horrible today," said Jerry Gordon, who owns Eddie's Market in Charles Village. "All my outside tables were filled at lunch, and people just shifted into the shade."

He said he didn't notice any difference in what his customer ordered. "Nothing changes. Well, maybe they buy some more beverages or some cut-up watermelon."

On Sunday, city health department officials declared the heat alert in anticipation of two days of hot, humid weather.

But Monday's temperature wasn't as high as predicted.

Trina Heizer of the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said the only weather record for the area was set at Dulles International Airport, where the mercury hit 97, breaking the 2001 record of 96.

The heat did nothing to entice more customers at Brewers Art restaurant and bar on Charles Street, said Volker Stewart, one of the owners. "During the hot weather, the first beer goes down fast, but people don't always drink as much as they would on a cooler day," he said. "People reach for more summery beers, the Belgian wheat beers. And if they're smart, they'll follow up with a glass of water."

At the Howard County Fair in West Friendship, attendance was light on Monday, and the prize animals and their owners tried to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Crossing guard Wanda McDonald stood in Monday's midday heat, her face sunburned from three days guarding the VIP vehicle entrance to the fair. She got a bit of shade from the raised tailgate of her midsize SUV, but otherwise stood in full sun.

"I think it's humid out here, but there is a nice breeze," she said, as a steady west wind cooled her despite the lime-green safety vest she wore over her T-shirt. Quitting for the day about 1 p.m., she knew what she'd do when she got home: "Take a shower."

A fast-moving storm provided some relief from the heat Monday night, bringing with it about a half-inch of rain, numerous lightning strikes and strong winds, causing power outages to at least 10,000 BGE customers in Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties and the city. BGE crews were working to restore power.

By 10 p.m., much of the storm had moved on toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore.

At North Calvert and 30th streets, a tree fell onto a van, trapping a male occupant for several minutes before city firefighters rescued him and took him by ambulance to Union Memorial Hospital for treatment.

In the Belair Road corridor in Northeast Baltimore, several trees were reported blown onto overhead wires, said a city Fire Department communications supervisor.

City police reported the intersection of Caroline and Aliceanna streets was under water, as well as other low-lying streets in Fells Point. The water was expected to quickly drain off.

Baltimore Sun reporters Richard Irwin and Larry Carson contributed to this article.

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