D.C. Area in for Week-Long Heatwave

Code orange air quality alert in effect

The weather keeps getting hotter. If you thought it was hot outside Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, brace for higher temperatures through Friday.

Wednesday was the hottest day of the year with a high of 97 degrees and a heat index of 102. Storm Team 4 Chief Meteorologist is predicting another high of 97 -- with a heat index of 106 -- Thursday and 98 and 108 Friday.

There's potential for heavy downpours and strong-to-severe storms to develop Thursday afternoon.

A code orange air quality alert was also issued for the region Wednesday.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the amount of pollutants in the air from 0 to 500, designating one of six colors to the results. The higher the number, the more polluted the air is, AIRNow.gov said.

In this case, code orange means the air may be unhealthy to sensitive groups. Those with respiratory/heart ailments, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity.

With a heat index near 105 degrees, Monday was just the start of the heatwave. The District activated its Heat Emergency Plan before noon Wednesday, reminding people that public facilities such as libraries, recreation centers, pools, museums and other government buildings are available for cooling during business hours. The Heat Emergency Plan also was activated Tuesday afternoon.

The city has cooling centers at One Judiciary Square, the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW, the King office building in Southeast and the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center in Northeast, the Associated Press reported. Those who need a ride to a cooling center can call the hyperthermia hotline at 1-800-535-7252.

Severe weather is possible Saturday, which will still be hot, with highs in mid-90s and a heat index of 104 possible. A cold front will move in and offer some relief from the heat.

But this week's heat wave likely won't break any records, Storm Team4 meteorologist Tom Kierein said. Record highs for each day this week are 100 degrees or higher. One of those records was set on July 18, 2012, when the area hit 101 degrees. The last extended heat wave was last summer between June 28 to July 8. D.C. had 12 days in a row of temperatures over 95 degrees.

Metro announced Tuesday that riders will be permitted to carry and drink water on the system through the end of the day Friday. However, Metro's prohibition on food, and beverages other than water, remains in effect.

D.C. has issued a hyperthermia alert in response to the heatwave. Here are some tips on how you can stay cool and prevent heat-related illnesses or deaths:

  • If you have to be outside for a lengthy periods of time, don't over exert yourself.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, lightly colored clothing.
  • Do not leave children or pets inside vehicles.
  • Check on friends and neighbors and have someone do the same for you.

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has changed its inspection station hours for Wednesday and Thursday due to the excessive heat. The inspection station, located at 1001 Half St. SW, will be open 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on those days. Customers with scheduled appointments for later than 12:45 p.m. should reschedule online.

Officials in Charles County, Md., will operate cooling centers through Friday, July 19. The cooling centers are as follows:

  • Capital Clubhouse, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., 3033 Waldorf Market Place in Waldorf
  • Richard R. Clark Senior Center, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 1210 Charles St. in La Plata
  • Nanjemoy Community Center, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 4375 Port Tobacco Road in Nanjemoy
  • Charles County Public Libraries, 9 a.m.-8 p.m Monday through Thursday and 1-5 p.m. Friday, all branches

The counties indoor and outdoor pools will also be open.

Prince George's County has also opened a number of cooling centers to help residents beat the heat. Each center will operate from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Heat is responsible for the most weather-related deaths, beating out tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning.

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