Record-breaking hot temperatures overtook the D.C. area Tuesday, with no relief forecast for Wednesday in what has amounted to a late spring heat wave.
The National Weather Service said the mercury reached 97 degrees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday, breaking a record high of 95 degrees for the day set in 1991.
Forecasters predict Wednesday’s high could match that figure and tie a 70-year old record of 97 degrees for June 18 set in 1944.
The week’s sweltering temperatures come before the official first day of summer on Saturday. The hot weather also arrives before the final day of school for D.C. students Friday, the annual benchmark for opening the city’s public swimming pools on a daily basis.
The extreme heat prompted city officials to open the District’s 19 water spray parks early — for the first time ever — to provide some needed relief.
“There are some times we extend the pool season but this is the first time we’ve ever opened early,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman John Stokes said. “We thought the residents would like a little refreshing treat.”
Spray parks, including 11 new parks built since last summer, will be open from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. Those longing for a dip in an outdoor pool will have to wait until Saturday. Beginning this weekend, pools will be open daily through Labor Day.
The District has also issued alerts urging residents to take extra precautions against the heat and advising them of the locations of cooling centers and other facilities available if they do not have air conditioning.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the high 90s through Thursday, with a reprieve on the way in the form of a cool front marked by thunderstorms heading toward the District Thursday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Lasorsa said. The front will likely bring highs back to the mid-80s and in line with average temperatures for this time of year.
“There could be a couple strong storms in there,” Mr. Lasorsa said. “It’s going to be pretty widely scattered. It’s going to be hit and miss in most areas.”
For those who will be in the sweltering heat, Mr. Lasorsa cautioned people to take common-sense precautions when they’re outside.
“Stay hydrated, drink lots of fluids, and don’t stay outside for too long,” Mr. Lasorsa said.