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Heat wave finished for now

June 01, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The first heat wave of 2011 has officially come and gone, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures spiked into the low 90s Monday and continued scorching the area through Wednesday afternoon.  

A cold front that brought more thunderstorms along the Mason-Dixon Line was responsible for ending the spring heat wave Wednesday, the weather service said.

Three straight days of temperatures above 90 degrees constitute a heat wave, said Joe Ceru, a weather service meteorologist in State College, Pa.  

In Harrisburg, Pa., the nearest measured point to Franklin County, Pa., temperatures have been above 90 degrees since Monday, he said.

And Dulles International Airport also recorded temperatures in the 90s since Monday, said Trina Heiser, a meteorology technician with the Sterling, Va., weather service office.

In Hagerstown, the mercury reached 93.1 degrees on Wednesday, according to local weather watcher Greg Keefer’s website i4weather.net.

The record for June 1 was 94 degrees, set in 1989, according to the website.

The average temperature for late May and early June is about 80 degrees, Ceru said.

Since Monday, temperatures have hovered at about 14 degrees above average, he said.

Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown had begun to see heat-related cases coming into the emergency department, said Linda Norris, a hospital spokeswoman.

The exact number of cases was unavailable Wednesday but Norris said one doctor told her at least two people came into the emergency room with heat-related issues during his shift Wednesday evening.

Heiser said the cold front that pushed the heat from the area brought with it the threat of severe thunderstorms.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Franklin and Fulton (Pa.) counties around 2:30 p.m.

A thunderstorm watch was also in effect for Washington County on Wednesday afternoon.  

A storm was seen near Big Cove Tannery, Pa., moving east toward Rouzerville at about 2:30 p.m., according to the warning.

Hail ranging from pea-sized to penny-sized was reported in Franklin County, Ceru said.  With the high ground temperature, Ceru said it was likely that the storm produced larger hail that had melted significantly by the time it reached the ground.

Both the warning and the watch had been lifted by Wednesday evening, according to the weather service.

With the unseasonable heat, air quality also dropped temporarily Wednesday.

The Maryland Department of the Environment issued a code orange alert again for Washington County early in the day.  It issued a similar alert Tuesday.

According to information from Clean Air Partners, particles became temporarily unhealthy for sensitive groups in Washington County at about 5 a.m.

In the Susquehanna Valley, particles were at a moderate level, or a code yellow, Ceru said.

While the region should remain dry for the next few days, it won’t be nearly as hot.

Today’s high is forecast to be about 80 degrees, Ceru said.

Friday should top at about 79 degrees, Heiser said.

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