Going to Apollo 11 events? National Mall crowd urged to ‘not underestimate the heat’

July 19, 2019

WTOP/Dave Dildine

After a fiery Friday and an expected sizzling Saturday, D.C. is reminding residents and visitors heading to the National Mall for the festival marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing to be prepared.

“People should not underestimate the heat,” said Christopher Rodriguez, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Friday, and that warning returns Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The extreme conditions are expected to stretch into Sunday.

Friday’s excessive heat warning lasts until 9 p.m., but even when night falls, the area will only cool off into the mid-70s and low 80s.

By Saturday morning, around 7-8 a.m., Storm Team 4 meteorologist Amelia Draper said it will already feel like 90 degrees, likely climbing into the triple digits by lunchtime.

Periods of high heat and humidity can cause medical problems, such as heat exhaustion and stroke.

“We want to make sure that the folks who come out for that event are properly hydrated,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll work with the Park Police to distribute water, and we’ll be on the lookout for anyone who might be suffering from heat exhaustion.”

Rodriguez said his agency will work to ensure that people know where to go if they are feeling the effects of the heat and need to cool off.

“This is going to be a pretty severe weather event, so we want to make sure people are aware of that and don’t take that for granted,” he said.

The festival kicked off Thursday between 4th and 7th streets, and returns from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. The festival is in addition to the Friday night and Saturday night 17-minute film that recreates the Apollo 11 launch.

Here’s what to expect Saturday for the stage at the outdoor celebration of the first moon landing, according to the Smithsonian:

Saturday, July 20

  • 10 a.m.: Ready Jet Go! performance
  • 11 a.m.: “Space Journalism: From Apollo to the Future,” featuring Emre Kelly, Florida Today; Ray Soto, USA Today, and Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, National Air and Space Museum
  • 11:30 a.m.: “Project Egress” discussion, featuring Adam Savage
  • 12 p.m.: “Frozen Water in the Lunar Craters” with NASA’s Dr. Jim Green
  • 12:30 p.m.: “Benefits of the International Space Station,” featuring NASA’s Dr. Tara Rutley
  • 1 p.m.: “Lunar Science,” presented by NASA’s Dr. Barbara Cohen
  • 1:30 p.m.: “From Moon Rocks to Mars Rocks: Lessons from Apollo for the Red Planet,” featuring NASA’s Dr. David Beaty
  • 2 p.m.: “Earth Science from Space,” presented by Sandra Cauffman
  • 2:30 p.m.: “A Day in the Life of a Space Engineer” panel, presented by Raytheon
  • 3 p.m.: Ready Jet Go! Performance
  • 4 p.m.: “Planetary Exploration,” featuring NASA’s Bobak Ferdowsi and the Museum’s Dr. Emily Martin
  • 4:30 p.m.: “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” panel about the Museum’s Saturn V projection
  • 5 p.m.: LEGO “Rocket Building Challenge” Awards Ceremony
  • 5:30 p.m.: Museum programming
  • 6 p.m.: Ready Jet Go! performance
  • 7 p.m.: Museum programming

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has activated the District’s Heat Emergency Plan, opening cooling centers, and extending service hours for low-barrier shelters and select outdoor pools and splash parks.

“Residents needing a cool place to be are encouraged to utilize any library or recreation center,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “Residents and visitors should take extra steps to beat the heat by staying in the shade or air-conditioning, drinking plenty of water and visiting a cooling center.”

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