- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The Washington area staggered under temperatures in the 90s, and the heat is expected to intensify today with weather officials forecasting another scorcher.
Yesterday's high at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was 94 degrees, but the 45 percent humidity made it feel hotter, weather officials said. The high at Washington Dulles International Airport was also 94 and at Baltimore-Washington International the mercury hit 97 at 2:52 p.m.
Today, temperatures again will be in the mid-90s, with the humidity making it feel like 105 degrees.
Already, there have been about a half-dozen deaths in the metro area attributed to the heat, and health officials are warning residents to take necessary precautions, particularly on the Fourth of July, when it is again expected to be hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s for the fifth straight day.
However, there could be a respite tomorrow when a cold front is expected to move in, bringing in drier weather, said Melody Paschetag, a National Weather Service spokeswoman.
On WTOP's "Ask the Chief" program yesterday, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said his main concern for picnickers and partiers on the Fourth was the heat rather than a terrorist attack.
"The only thing I'd be concerned about are the crowds and the heat. The weather people not bringing enough water we're going to have a lot of people dropping from heat exhaustion," he said.
Health officials advise people to drink plenty of fluids and wear light, loose clothing to beat the heat.
The Council of Governments declared air quality will be unhealthy today, also known as Code Red.
Officials recommend people use public transit as much as possible. Under Code Red, most suburban bus routes will be free.
Michael Richardson, deputy director of public health for the District, said those planning to spend the Fourth outdoors should avoid heavy meals and alcoholic drinks. "Alcohol worsens the physiology by diminishing the body's ability to manage heat," he said. Instead, they should drink plenty of water.
The health department, along with Emergency Management Services, will provide water and cooling stations around the Mall, along with first-aid centers.
Although temperatures in the 90s are not unusual in June and July, last month was warmer than usual, Miss Paschetag said, with temperatures averaging at 76.1 around 1.6 degrees above normal.
To help residents fight the heat, the District set up cooling stations at the Reeves Municipal Center in Northwest and at One Judiciary Square. Fans and water were distributed to residents.
Montgomery County, where a 33-year-old woman died in Aspen Hill late last month of heat-related causes, is also distributing fans and has opened a cooling station at 8210 Colonial Way in Silver Spring.


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