DC region swelters: Forecasters warn of dangerous heat, strong storms

There’s no need to mince words — it’s hot, and it’s expected to get even hotter throughout the D.C. region this weekend.

The heat wave that began Wednesday afternoon, when southerly winds and sunshine brought highs in the lower to mid 90s, will intensify into the weekend, according to 7News First Alert Meteorologist Steve Rudin.

For Friday, the National Weather Service has placed the area under an Excessive Heat Warning, noting a potential for heat indexes of a sweltering 110 degrees.

“Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the weather service said. “Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.”

If you needed another reason to stay inside, the weather service has also issued a Code Orange air quality alert for Friday, meaning levels of air pollution may be unhealthy for sensitive groups.

In addition to the heat Thursday, some late-day thunderstorms moved through the region, bringing gusty winds, hail and periods of moderate to heavy rain. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect for much of Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District until 11 p.m. Thursday.

Where to beat the heat and stay cool

D.C. is urging residents to stay cool and hydrated, check on older adults and other vulnerable neighbors, keep pets indoors and wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

The District has activated its Hot Weather Emergency through Sunday. D.C. spray parks and recreation centers have extended hours through Sunday, and cooling centers throughout the District will be available for those seeking relief from the heat.

Christopher Rodriguez, director of the District’s homeland security agency, said that Mayor Muriel Bowser’s declaration of a hot weather emergency this week allows the city to open cooling centers and other facilities so residents can beat the heat.

He urged residents to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and to avoid strenuous activities outdoors whenever possible. A list of the District’s cooling centers can be found online.

“Do not underestimate the impact that this heat emergency is going to have on you. I know there’s a lot of people out there who want to go out for their runs, or want to spend a lot of time outside,” Rodriguez said.

“Limit your time outdoors, and make sure you stay hydrated. Because you’re dealing with triple-digit temperatures and the potential for a heat index of up to 110 degrees, you can very quickly feel those impacts.”

Plus, D.C. Public Schools have canceled all outdoor activities through Sunday.

In Virginia, Fairfax County has activated its Heat Plan for Thursday and Friday. The county said its cooling centers will have supplies available, including bottled water, sunscreen, insect repellent and body wipes.

With the heat advisory, Loudoun County has designated some libraries, community centers and recreation centers to serve as cooling centers.

Alexandria County offers cooling centers at its libraries and recreation centers. The Potomac Yard Park Interactive Fountain operates from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Prince William County has designated all its public libraries as cooling centers, and encourages residents to monitor the county’s Emergency Information Page in case any other cooling resources are announced.

In Maryland, Montgomery County has declared a heat emergency alert. In addition to cooling centers that are being made available to residents, passengers on Montgomery County Ride On buses will have access to free bottled water during service hours.

Anne Arundel County offers cooling centers in public libraries, some district police station lobbies and senior centers.

Calvert County has issued a Severe Heat Alert and has designated libraries and community centers as cooling centers.

In Charles County, cooling centers are available at the Capital Clubhouse, the Richard R. Clark Senior Center, Nanjemoy Community Center and the Waldorf Senior & Recreational Center, as well as public libraries.

Prince George’s County offers cooling centers at some senior centers, community centers, recreation complexes and ice rinks. Residents are asked to check in at the facility’s front desk when they arrive.

Howard County has issued a Heat Alert and offers cooling centers at community centers, senior centers and libraries during their normal hours of operation. The county advises anybody who needs shelter or other assistance to call the Grassroots hotline at 410-531-6677.

Parts of the U.S., particularly the Southwest, have been battling blazing temperatures this month, and health experts urged people to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.


While remaining dangerously hot, there is also an increased risk of strong to severe thunderstorms on Saturday. Highs will range from the middle to upper 90s. Sunday will see temperatures in the 80s.

Next week, temperatures are trending in the 80s along with a good amount of sunshine.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, hot and humid with afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Storms may be severe. Highs 95 to 100. Heat Index as high as 110.

SATURDAY: Hot and humid with afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Storms may be severe. Highs 95 to 100. Heat Index as high as 107.

SUNDAY: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, ending by late afternoon. Highs upper 80s.

Current weather:


WTOP’s Kate Corliss and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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