The heat wave in the region continues to set records.
It reached 99 degrees Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore, a single degree above the previous high for Sept. 6 in the city set in 1983, according to Brian LaSorsa, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Baltimore-Washington office. At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport the thermometer hit 100 degrees.
Temperatures are expected reach a low of around 80 on Wednesday night, and return to a high near 98 on Thursday.
“It’s going to be hotter today than tomorrow, but hot nonetheless,” LaSorsa said.
A heat advisory from the National Weather Service remains in place through Thursday, with predicted highs in the mid-90s and peak heat indices of 100 to 105 possible during the afternoon hours.
There’s a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms on Thursday after 2 p.m.
Maryland also saw its hottest Labor Day ever as temperatures ticked toward triple digits.
The Baltimore City Health Department issued a Code Red extreme heat alert through Thursday, prompting officials to open cooling centers across the city.
Inside the Sandtown-Winchester Senior Center, staff handed out chilled water bottles from a blue cooler near the entrance. The cooling center, situated on the 1600 block of Stricker Street, is a welcoming oasis for neighbors living in a section of the city where tree coverage is scant.
Beads of sweat pearled on Will Vessels’ skin as he sat in the shade just outside the center Wednesday afternoon. The 42-year-old has central air conditioning at home but began dropping by the center on his days off work a few months ago to grab free bottles of water and to use the electrical outlet.
As Vessels waited for his phone to charge, he thought about how few places there are in the neighborhood to cool off. The Pennsylvania Avenue branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library has been closed this summer for renovations. There’s usually a small crowd of people that hang out all day around the Penn-North metro stop, he said.
Students at the following Baltimore schools without air conditioning had virtual classes from home on Wednesday:
- Baltimore City College
- Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove
- City Springs Elementary/Middle School
- Cross Country Elementary/Middle School
- Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School
- Dorothy I. Height Elementary School
- Furley Elementary School
- Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School
- National Academy Foundation
- The Mount Washington School
- Vanguard Collegiate Middle School
Kindergarteners and first graders will continue to to attend in person on an early-release schedule, the school system said.
The schedule will remain in place for Thursday.
In response to the heat, the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks is keeping the Druid Hill and Riverside Park pools open through the weekend.
Between now and Friday, the locations will remain open from 3-8 p.m. For Saturday and Sunday, the hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.
Remaining indoors, reducing time outdoors and staying hydrated are additional ways to keep cool.
Elsewhere, Baltimore County Public Schools canceled all outdoor athletic games for Thursday, while allowing indoor games, matches and practices to continue.
The late season heat wave seemed to clear the streets of Baltimore County, much the way a winter deep freeze might keep residents indoors. A smattering of students walked the campus of Towson University, after the fall semester started last week. Playing fields were empty, and construction equipment sat idle Wednesday afternoon.
Foot traffic on York Road was nearly nonexistent, but locals weren’t taking refuge in the local multiplex. Cinemark Towson was cool but mostly empty; the usher said the low numbers were fairly typical of a weekday afternoon in September.
Walk-ons were welcome at the Mount Pleasant Golf Course, which hosted a seniors golf tournament in the morning. Plenty of tee times were available by the afternoon, with only the most intrepid taking to the course. Clubhouse employees said water stations were installed on every hole, and everyone opted for golf carts to avoid walking the course.
Back inside the Sandtown-Winchester Senior Center, Robert Jones snacked on canned tuna and saltines while friends played chess and dominos nearby. The 56-year-old comes to the center for the camaraderie and the comfortable temperatures.
”It’s burning up for me,” he said of the sweltering heat on Wednesday.
Back in the day, Jones recalled how neighbors would use a wrench to pry open fire hydrants and release gushes of cool water onto the hot pavement.
”It ain’t like it used to be,” he said.
These days, the fire hydrants tend to have special locks on them and aren’t easily opened.
”It’s very nice that they open this center when it’s hot,” Jones said. “For us old people, we definitely need it.”
Additional reporting by Hugo Kugiya