- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Area residents struggled with record-breaking temperatures yesterday, but forecasts for today promise some relief.

“It is brutal out here,” said Balt Ramos, 44, a Texas resident touring Arlington National Cemetery with his family.

The temperature at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport reached 101 degrees at 2:10 p.m., breaking the record of 100 degrees in 1930. It was the hottest day in the region since July 6, 1999.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams advised agencies, businesses and residents to raise the settings on their thermostats by 1 degree to conserve energy. The District provided four cooling centers, including the Reeves Municipal Center and One Judiciary Square in Northwest, and opened fire hydrants to offer a cool place for children to play. City officials also offered to help low-income residents replace their air conditioners with more energy-efficient units.

Andy Woodcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said a cold front from the north should push out the intense heat that arrived Monday. Thunderstorms also are forecast for today.

At least four deaths in Maryland were caused indirectly by the heat, said John Hammond, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. One was a Harford County woman and the three others were elderly Baltimore residents who did not have air conditioning. Mr. Hammond said the victims had heart disease complicated by the heat. Since June 19, Mr. Hammond said, 19 deaths in the state have been related to excessive heat.

Kathryn Friedman, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, said heat was suspected in the collapse of a 70-year-old man Wednesday on a sidewalk in Chinatown.

“His temperature was 109 degrees at the hospital,” she said. “They were cautiously optimistic, but they got it lowered.”

Temperatures are forecast to reach 95 degrees today, then return to seasonal levels in the mid- and upper 80s by tomorrow.

“It’s terrible,” said Michael Kozar, a lifeguard at the McLean Swim and Tennis Association. “There’s no way for lifeguards to cool off, [but] when the heat wave’s gone, I’ll go outside and enjoy myself.”

States from Georgia to Connecticut were under excessive heat warnings yesterday, as temperatures rose into the 90s or higher for at least the third consecutive day. The high was 96 degrees in New York City and 98 degrees in Boston.

Authorities have confirmed that heat has played a role in at least 16 deaths in the Midwest and East, plus one in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas since Sunday. Heat was suspected in at least eight other deaths.

In Illinois, at least six heat-related deaths were confirmed this week in Cook County. Officials suspect the intense heat earlier in California contributed to the deaths of 160 persons.

Officials said Potomac Electric Power Co. set a record for energy demand for the third straight day.

The unofficial record of 6,865 megawatts was broken at 4 p.m., officials said. One megawatt of electricity is enough to power 800 to 1,000 homes, and customers use about 5,300 megawatts on an average summer day. The company reported a few scattered outages that were heat-related. Dominion Virginia Power and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. broke records for demand Tuesday and Wednesday and anticipated new records yesterday.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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