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Hagerstown heat wave

Temperatures expected to hit 100 by Wednesday

Temperatures expected to hit 100 by Wednesday

August 01, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - It's going to feel like 110 degrees. Maybe hotter when standing in direct sun.

A heat wave is heading to Washington County that should stay for about three days, said Accuweather meteorologist John Gresiak.

He said the high today will be 98 degrees, and the temperature is expected to reach 100 degrees Wednesday.

These will be the hottest days recorded this year in the county.

The hottest day in July was 93 degrees; in June it was 92 degrees. On May 31, the temperature reached 96 degrees, Gresiak said.

Because of humidity and other factors, he said it will feel like about 110 degrees today and Wednesday.

The average temperature for this time of year is about 86 degrees, according to Accuweather.

"We're looking at temperatures at 10 to 15 degrees above normal," he said.

Gresiak said the anticipated heat wave is part of the same system that sent temperatures in parts of the West soaring above 100 degrees recently.

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"That heat is moving eastward," he said.

Dr. Stephen Kotch, chairman and director for emergency medicine at Washington County Hospital, said heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible anytime temperatures spike, as they are expected to do for the next few days.

Kotch said warning signs for these conditions include fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.

"The main thing is to seek a cool place when you first start feeling exhaustion," he said. "If you're mowing the lawn and can only get through half of the lawn before feeling exhausted, that's a sign."

Allen Staggers, spokesman for Allegheny Energy Inc., said the company is expecting an increase in energy use during the next three days as more people use air conditioning and fans to keep cool.

Allegheny's average daily energy usage is 7,000 to 8,000 megawatts, Staggers said.

He said he expects that usage to jump to more than 8,000 megawatts as temperatures rise over the next few days.

"The one thing that we do different in these days when we are expected to see peak demands, we probably monitor the electric transmission system more closely than we do every other day," he said.

The precaution is one way to prevent problems, like blackouts, which plagued parts of California recently.

"We make sure the individual lines are not overloaded," he said.

Allegheny Power is asking customers to conserve electricity today, especially from 3 to 7 p.m.

Gresiak said residents should try to avoid going outside for work or exercise during the anticipated heat wave.

AAA officials said they expect an increase in calls for roadside assistance while temperatures are at 90 degrees and above.

"Extreme temperatures tax your vehicle's engine," said Ragina C. Averella, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, in a written release. "History tells us that with each successive day of high heat, more cars will break down since heat damage is cumulative."

Temperatures are expected to be back in the upper 80s by Friday and Saturday, Gresiak said.

"That's slightly above normal, but more typical for this time of the year," he said.




Keep cool



Dr. Stephen Kotch, chairman and director for emergency medicine at Washington County Hospital, offered these tips for those coping with high temperatures without air conditioning:

· Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

· Avoid alcoholic beverages. In the heat, they can make you more dehydrated.

· Wear cool, comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.

· If the heat becomes unbearable, walk at the mall, grocery store or some other place with air conditioning.




Save energy



Allegheny Energy Inc. offered the following tips for conserving electricity:

· Close curtains and blinds to keep out the sun and to retain cooler air inside your home.

· Postpone using major electric household appliances like stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers until the cooler evening hours.

· Set your air conditioner thermostat higher than usual.

· Turn off nonessential electric appliances and equipment.

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