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Tri-State summer heats up

July 21, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

The Tri-State area on Monday was spared much of the hot, muggy weather hovering over other parts of the East Coast, but the reprieve is likely to end today, forecasters said.

Temperatures could reach highs in the upper-90s through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, could reach 110 degrees.

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Such weather could threaten the current records for daily high temperatures. The record high for today is 102 set in 1926.

The culprit is a high-pressure system that is keeping the heat and humidity in the region, according to John Newkirk, a program manager for the National Weather Service.

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"It's pretty much standard stuff for what we see during the summer," Newkirk said.

Clouds and breezes in Hagerstown held the high temperature Monday to 90 degrees, according to data compiled by local weather observer Greg Keefer. But Newkirk said the clouds are expected to lift by today.

The threat of extremely hot and humid weather increases the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, said Dr. Robert Parker, Washington County health officer.

Heat exhaustion can develop after a combination of extreme heat and several days of inadequately replacing fluids. Symptoms include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea or headache. Heat exhaustion should be treated by resting in a cool, shaded area and drinking plenty of fluids.

Heat stroke is characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry, red skin, disorientation, convulsions, delirium and coma.

Parker said the risk is especially great for young people and the elderly - whose bodies might not be adequately able to cool themselves - as well as those suffering chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Extreme heat could cause a person with heart disease to suffer heart failure, he said.

"Those are the individuals that really need to be careful," Parker said.

He advised that anyone who knows of an elderly person living alone should check in on them periodically to make sure they are not in danger of any heat-related illnesses.

So far the region has missed the heat wave that has besieged other parts of the country in recent weeks. There have only been three days this month that have hit the 90-degree mark in Hagerstown. July is historically the hottest month of the year.

"It seems a lot hotter than it is," Keefer said.

Though high temperatures often put a higher demand on electric utilities, Allegheny Power has enough capacity to meet the extra strain on the system, said spokeswoman Midge Teahan.

"Our system at the present time is very stable and we do not anticipate any problems," she said.

There is some hope on the horizon. A cool front could break up the heat wave by Saturday.

"Our weekend looks promising," Newkirk said.

tips to keep cool-->

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