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Heat index hits 106 degrees

August 10, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Trudging down West Washington Street Monday afternoon, Hagerstown resident Anthony Essex didn't need to glance at the soaring digits on the nearby bank sign to realize the weather called for extra precautions.

"It's hot," Essex said, wiping his sweaty brow with a wet rag he carries to keep cool on hot days.

The heat index, a measure that reflects the discomfort caused by heat and humidity, reached 106 degrees at 4:06 p.m. Monday, its highest reading of the year, according to local weather watcher Greg Keefer.

"That's definitely the hottest it's been so far this summer," Keefer said.

Keefer recorded a high temperature of 94.8 degrees Monday, which, when rounded up, ties Sunday's high of 95 for hottest temperature of the summer, he said.

The record high for Aug. 10 was 99 degrees in 1913, according to historical data on Keefer's Web site, i4weather.net.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory through 8 p.m. Monday for the part of Maryland east of I-95, meaning high temperatures and humidity were expected to create a risk for heat illnesses. In Western Maryland, the National Weather Service warned that heat index values would be around 100 degrees.

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Around downtown Hagerstown, many of those who ventured outside Monday afternoon said they took steps to stay safe from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Jane Courter of Pennsylvania carried a water bottle as she walked along North Potomac Street.

Courter said as long as she is able to duck into an air-conditioned building from time to time, she doesn't mind the heat.

"I like it," she said. "To me, it's summer."

Bernard Paul, owner of Uncle Louie G's Homemade Gourmet Italian Ices and Ice Cream on East Washington Street, said he was glad to offer one such air-conditioned building.

"People are coming inside and the first thing they say when they walk in is, 'Oh my God, it feels so good in here,'" Paul said.

On the other side of East Washington Street, Huntzberry Brothers worker Kenny May said he was drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated while working on an alley-widening project. Fortunately, May said, there was enough of a breeze Monday afternoon to offer some relief.

Charles West, a construction worker from Baltimore, said he was glad he wasn't on the job Monday.

"I feel for the people that are working," West said.

West said he has seen other construction workers pass out on hot days and said it is important to pace yourself and keep water handy.

"You'll be drinking it, pouring it on yourself, drinking it, pouring it on yourself," he said.

Keefer said the heat wave was caused by a "Bermuda High," or a high-pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean.

"This has just been kind of a short one," he said. "It's not really going to last that long."

The heat and humidity were expected to continue today, but should break by Wednesday with temperatures in the 80s for the rest of the week, Keefer said.

Thunderstorms are also possible almost every day this week, Keefer said.

"There could be some pretty wild weather coming through," he said.

Keefer said the heat wave was nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.

"We usually have at least two or three days like this every summer," he said.

What is unusual is how few days the temperature has reached into the 90s this summer, Keefer said.

His Web site shows that this year, there have been temperatures in the 90s two days in August, two days in July, two days in June and two days in April this year.

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