Feeling the heat

August 09, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - It felt like it was about 111 degrees in Hagerstown by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

That was the heat index recorded at 2:30 p.m. by local weather observer Greg Keefer. When the temperature and humidity were accounted for, it felt hotter than 100 degrees for much of the day.

The high temperature was 97.8 degrees, according to Keefer's Web site,

Hot and humid weather is expected to continue today, but temperatures should drop to the upper 80s Friday.

With temperatures lingering in the upper 90s, many area residents were turning to air conditioning for relief.

Michelle Waugh, manager of the service department at Larry & Sons Inc. in Hagerstown, said the company fielded more than 30 calls for service Wednesday. On a typical day, the business receives about 10 calls for repair or replacement of air conditioners.

"It's extreme," she said.

Waugh said most requests were for technicians to fix air-conditioning leaks or units that had shut down.


Air conditioners not only cool a home or business but also remove moisture from the air, Waugh said. High humidity recorded throughout the week has caused many air conditioning systems to work overtime.

"There's just a lot of moisture in the air ... and they're just working so hard," Waugh said.

Many air conditioners were working hard Wednesday, and Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers said energy usage was high.

The highest day for energy use in the company's history occurred in August 2006, when 8,734 megawatts were used, he said.

By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday more than 8,000 megawatts had been used, but Staggers said he did not believe a record would be set.

Despite the heat, and even without the comfort of air conditioners, residents are heeding the advice of health officials, a Washington County Hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon. There were no patients there with heat-related illnesses since Tuesday.

What's with those bank thermometers?

If the official high temperature was 97 degrees in Hagerstown, why would a bank display say 101 degrees?

The answer lies in where a thermometer is placed, said Alex Sosnowski, an expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.

A thermometer recording the official temperature is in an enclosed box, with vents that allow air to circulate, about 6 to 6 1/2 feet off the ground, he said.

Other thermometers, such as the ones banks have, might be directly hit by the sun's rays, or might be higher in the air, or might sit above a paved parking lot that's radiating heat, he said.

Sosnowski said the possible discrepancies call into question the reliability of older weather records, when it wasn't clear where and how the temperature was measured.

- Andrew Schotz

What's ahead

Forecast for Hagerstown, according to AccuWeather:

Today: High 92; Low 72

Friday: High 86; Low 64

Saturday: High 84; Low 62

Sunday: High 89; Low 68

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