DC activates cooling centers as Sunday forecast calls for extreme heat

It might be hard to believe the D.C. region was facing unseasonably cool daytime highs just a few weeks ago, but it’s suddenly feeling a lot more like summer: Sunday’s highs will swelter in the low to mid 90s, with District officials opening cooling centers so residents can seek relief from the heat.

Mayor Muriel Bowser activated D.C.’s emergency heat plan for both Sunday and Monday, with forecasters warning of dangerous heat indexes at or over 95 degrees on both days. Health officials recommend drinking plenty of water, wearing lightweight clothing and minimizing time spent outdoors during peak afternoon heat.

An interactive map of public cooling centers can be found on the D.C. government’s website.

Sunday’s forecast otherwise looks sunny and uneventful, if you can get past the heat. Aside from a small risk of an isolated shower — a potential which WTOP’s news partners at NBC Washington pinned at about 10% — Sunday will be dry.

“Any isolated to widely-scattered shower or storm will be focused near and west of the Blue Ridge. Elsewhere, it will just be mostly sunny and hot,” the National Weather Service’s D.C. region office said in its Sunday discussion. “Heat indexes won’t be too much higher than the air temperatures but could approach 100 in spots.”

High pressure centered over the West Atlantic will dominate the East Coast’s weather for the beginning of the workweek, leasing to intense heat from New York City south to the Carolinas.

Weather patterns prompted Maryland officials to post a Code Orange air quality alert for the Baltimore metropolitan area Sunday, advising of air pollution concentrations hazardous for sensitive residents.

“Sensitive groups include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases and the elderly,” the Maryland Department of the Environment said. “The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors.”

In Washington, the Downtown Day Center at 1313 New York Ave. NW will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. specifically for those experiencing homelessness. Bathrooms, bottled water and snacks are available.

Shelters considered “low barrier” will be open all day on Sunday and Monday for those looking to escape the heat.

The District reminds residents to stay indoors when possible. Locations with shade or air conditioning are the best. It’s a good idea to walk pets outside early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.

Drink plenty of nonalcoholic and decaffeinated fluids. Wear sunscreen and loose, lightweight clothing and hats with a wide brim. Check on children, elderly and those with special needs who may have trouble with the heat.


Sunday: Sunny, hot and slightly humid. Highs in the low to mid 90s.

Monday: Partly sunny, humid, with afternoon storms possible. Highs near 90.

Tuesday: Cloudy with showers possible through the day, cooler but muggy. Highs in the mid to upper 80s.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, hot and muggy, with afternoon storms. Highs near 90.

Current conditions:

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for USATODAY.com, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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