- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2012

Temperatures in the D.C. area peaked at 105 degrees Saturday, falling short of an all-time heat record but surpassing the previous high for the day.

Saturday continued a trend in the area that hasn’t seen high temperatures lower than 95 degrees since the month began. By 2 p.m., the 103-degree temperature recorded at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport broke the record of 102 for the day set in 2010. By 5 p.m., the temperature peaked at 105 degrees, just short of an all-time record of 106 degrees recorded in July 1930.

Sunday will see high temperatures of 97 degrees before the heat wave is expected to break Monday, with high temperatures dropping to the 80s and reaching as low as the mid-80s by the middle of the week, National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Klein said.

Metro officials on Saturday identified heat as the probable cause of a train derailment in Prince George’s County on Friday afternoon, saying extreme temperatures and exposure to sunlight likely caused a kink in a track. No one was injured in the incident.

The transit agency has again made an allowance for riders to drink water on trains through Sunday, marking the third exception to their no-drinking policy over the past two weeks. The District’s Department of Parks and Recreation canceled outdoor activities through the weekend, but pools remain open.

The blistering temperatures have been caused by high pressure sitting on top of the country that traps heat, Mr. Klein said.

This summer is the sixth hottest on record, at a third of the way through the official meteorological season. The year is still about two degrees off pace from 2010 and 2011, the first and second hottest summers on record.

“We’re not talking about anything close to the records yet, but obviously if this keeps up, we’ll get closer,” Mr. Klein said.

One record that was set in June was the all-time high for the month, at 104 degrees.

Long stretches of temperatures higher than 90 should be old hat for the D.C. area. Just last year, during the last two weeks of July, temperatures were in the 90s every day, with four days above 100 degrees.

Lasting for two weeks, the heat wave has been “expansive,” Mr. Klein said. It’s affected the eastern half of the nation, even in areas like the Great Lakes.

Sweltering temperatures have been especially troublesome for those in the mid-Atlantic region, where hundreds of thousands of people were without power after last week’s massive derecho storm.

On Saturday afternoon, Pepco still reported 968 power outages in Montgomery County, with 586 outages in the District and 45 in Prince George’s County. Dominion Virginia Power reported Friday that it had restored power to all its Northern Virginia customers.

Many areas, including the South and areas closer to home like Southern Maryland, are additionally dealing with drought.

The furious downpour on June 29 did not provide enough rain to ease worries of a drought. D.C. is currently classified as abnormally dry, and along with Virginia, is “on the cusp” of a drought, Mr. Klein said.

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