DC area bakes under excessive heat warning; ‘even hotter’ Saturday

It looks like the D.C. area won’t make it to 100 degrees Friday, but the hot, humid weather is continuing to hang over the region, and the hottest weather is still coming.

An excessive heat warning returns Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. An excessive heat watch is in effect Sunday. The region is also under a Code Orange air quality alert.

Storm Team 4 meteorologist Matt Ritter said Friday afternoon that the century mark wasn’t happening now, but that many places in the area had heat indexes — a combination of heat and humidity that corresponds to how hot it feels — over 100.

It’s only going to get worse Saturday. Ritter said that there was a chance of 100-degree temperatures, with heat indexes reaching 110 to 115.



“Even hotter than today for more people,” Ritter tweeted.

While record high temperatures won’t fall — the record for Saturday’s date is 106 — records for highest overnight low temperatures are in danger. Ritter said urban areas might not make it below 80, even at the darkest and coolest part of the overnight hours.

Monday looks to be the next chance for the official end of the heat wave, with temperatures edging toward 90 but perhaps over. The temperatures will break on Tuesday, with some rain, and Wednesday and Thursday look to be beautiful, Ritter said.

Here’s what you need to know about the hot weather, and getting through it.

Kerrigan Holley cools off in the water fountains at Canal Park, on July 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. An excessive heat warning has been issued for the Washington area as temperatures approach triple digits. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Stay hydrated

The National Weather Service says the weather conditions will be such that the high temperatures and humidity combined could “quickly cause heat stress or heat stroke if precautions are not taken.”


Code Orange air quality

The extreme temperatures will worsen air quality. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has forecast a Code Orange due to ozone pollution over the D.C. region this weekend. Such a designation means air will be unhealthy for children, older people and people with respiratory and heart ailments.


Signs of heat illnesses

Any weekend plans should involve limiting outdoor time and staying cool and hydrated.

The need to stay hydrated during this excessive heat event cannot be stressed enough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific recommendations for the symptoms of heat exhaustion and the even-more-serious heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fainting

Under those circumstances you should move to a cooler location, loosen your clothes, lie down, apply wet, cool cloth to as much of your body as possible and sip water. If you continue to vomit, seek medical help right away.

Heat stroke

  • Body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Fast and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

If you suspect heat stroke, call 911. Do not give fluids to someone experiencing heat stroke symptoms. Move the person to a cooler location and try to lower their body temperature using cool cloths or a bath.

Muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness, the CDC advises.

People cool off at open sprinklers on the National Mall, on July 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Tips to say cool

If you can’t make it to a cooling center and must be outside, some of D.C. Health’s tips for staying cool include:

  • Drink plenty of water;
  • Stay out of the sun;
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar;
  • Wear clothing that is loosefitting, light-colored and breathable, such as cotton;
  • Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing, and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella;
  • Limit sun exposure during midday hours and in places of potential severe exposure, such as beaches;
  • Wear sunscreen;
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully;
  • Do not leave infants, children or pets in a parked car;
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area;
  • If you do not have access to a cool-temperature location, visit the District recreation center, library or senior center closest to you.

According to the city, those at the greatest risk for heat-related illness are: infants, children up to 4 years old, people 65 years old and older, people who are overweight and people who are ill or on certain medications.


Forecast

Saturday: Hazy sunshine. Dangerously hot and humid. Highs near 100. Heat index: 110 to 115.

Saturday night : Slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 11 p.m. Partly cloudy. Lows around 83.

Sunday: Partly sunny, hot and humid. Chance of strong storms after 3 pm. Highs near 100. Heat index: 105 to 110.

Monday: Showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 90.

Tuesday: A chance of showers. Cooler and less humid. Highs in the mid-80s.

Current weather


How not to stress the power grid

The very hot days are sure to stress the region’s power grid, and if you find yourself without power, you can check for status updates using outage maps from Pepco and Dominion Energy.

Christina Harper, a spokesperson for Pepco, the utility that serves D.C. and its neighboring counties in Maryland (Prince George’s and Montgomery), said one thing residents can do in the coming days is set their thermostat to 78 degrees, “and forget it.”

While 78 may seem warm, Harper said, it’s much cooler than the temperature outside, and it reduces the load on the power grid. “Let it stay there,” she said.

Harper suggested keeping shades drawn and making sure to turn off any nonessential appliances. If you must do any cooking or cleaning at home that requires the use of high-energy appliances, it’s best to wait until later in the day.

She added that when temperatures reach 95 degrees or higher, the utility will “cancel or delay any scheduled nonemergency work so customers will be able to enjoy the comforts of their homes.”

Harper went on to say, however, that Pepco will continue any planned projects designed to improve system reliability that would require a planned outage.

“We would move ahead with any work that would help us to increase load, and during these really hot days, we expect our load will be impacted because more people are using their air conditioner units,” she said.

Harper reminded customers that it’s a good idea to download Pepco’s mobile app to easily get updates of planned outages, as well as news about when unplanned outages will be resolved.

The map below shows area power outages:


Cooling centers

Here are some information on cooling centers in your area.

DC

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday that the D.C. Heat Emergency Plan has been activated. This goes into effect when the heat index passes 95. Cooling centers for residents and the homeless are open from noon to 6 p.m., with some outdoor pools, splash parks and shelters open laterView an interactive map of the District’s cooling centers.

D.C. residents can get more information on heat advisories at the District’s website.

Virginia

Maryland


National heatwave

The D.C. metro area isn’t alone when it comes to hot weather. More than 85% of the lower 48 states will see temperatures over 90 this weekend.

WTOP’s Dan Friedell and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Russ Wilson splashes water on his face from a fountain in New York, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The heat wave that has been roasting much of the U.S. in recent days is just getting warmed up, with temperatures expected to soar to dangerous levels through the weekend. (AP/Seth Wenig)
A roofer pauses to wipe his face as he works on a new home under construction Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Houston. A heat wave is expected to send temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees through the weekend across much of the country. The National Weather Service estimates that more than 100 heat records will fall on Saturday. Most will not be the scorching daily highs, but for lack of cooling at night, something called nighttime lows. Those lows will be record highs. (AP/David J. Phillip)
Beating the heat, a tuber floats the cool Comal River, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in New Braunfels, Texas. (AP/Eric Gay)
Beating the heat, tubers float the Guadalupe River, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in New Braunfels, Texas. (AP/Eric Gay)
Beating the heat, a group sits in the Guadalupe River, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in New Braunfels, Texas. (AP/Eric Gay)
Kayakers paddle in a canal leading to the Detroit River in Detroit Thursday, July 18, 2019. Heat and humidity are expected to mount to dangerous levels as part of a wave of sweltering weather covering a substantial portion of the U.S. (AP/Paul Sancya)
Reona Dee Pearson visits with her dogs in a kennel at the Homeless Alliance day shelter Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The Homeless Alliance offers a kennel, complete with pet food and access to veterinary services, so that people with pets aren’t shut out of the system of care. Meanwhile, she can go inside for breakfast and lunch in air conditioning, showers, and access to computers and phones. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
People watch television at the Homeless Alliance day shelter Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The air-conditioned day shelter, open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers breakfast and lunch, provides showers, offers access to computers, phone, and mail, and provides access to mental and physical healthcare, budgeting assistance and legal support. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings from the Southern Plains to Nebraska and as far east to New York State and parts of the East Coast. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
An ostrich cools off in a shower of water at the Oklahoma City Zoo ,Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings from the Southern Plains to Nebraska and as far east to New York State and parts of the East Coast. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A Galapagos tortoise cools off in a shower of water from a zookeeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings from the Southern Plains to Nebraska and as far east to New York State and parts of the East Coast. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A gorilla reaches for a frozen treat at the Oklahoma City Zoo Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings from the Southern Plains to Nebraska and as far east to New York State and parts of the East Coast. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
Kids play in a fountain to cool off as temperatures approach 100 degrees Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. The heat wave that has been roasting much of the U.S. in recent days is just getting warmed up, with temperatures expected to soar to dangerous levels through the weekend. (AP/Charlie Riedel)
A boy plays in a fountain to cool off as temperatures approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP/Charlie Riedel)
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