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D.C. is under an excessive-heat warning as indexes climb above 110


D.C. is under an excessive-heat warning as indexes climb above 110

The heat in Washington — which went into overdrive in mid-June — is becoming insufferable.

Tuesday became the fifth day in a row hitting at least 97 degrees and the 22nd day reaching 90 degrees or higher this year. Heat indexes, factoring in oppressive humidity levels, climbed to around 110 — higher than just about anywhere in the United States. The brutal conditions prompted the National Weather Service to upgrade D.C.’s heat advisory to an excessive-heat warning.

Wednesday is forecast to reach the upper 90s again, and heat alerts are in effect for the third-straight day.

The nights, meanwhile, have been sultry. We’ve already posted several instances of lows of 80 degrees or higher this summer after a five-year pause. Before the year 2000, nights this warm were exceptionally rare.

The hot days and steamy nights add up to the second-hottest start to the summer on record.

While there might be a break in the heat Friday, it won’t last. The hot weather pattern probably resumes over the weekend and intensifies next week.

According to the Climate Shift Index from Climate Central, a science communications firm, human-caused climate change has made the recent heat in the D.C. area twice as probable.

The second-warmest summer on record so far

Using the meteorological definition, summer began June 1. The current average temperature of 80.5 degrees since then trails only 2010’s 80.8 degrees among the hottest years as of this date. Rounding out the top five are 1994 (80.1), 2011 (79.4) and 2012 (78.9).

Since Jan. 1, this is also the second-warmest year on record to date with an average temperature of 58.7 degrees, trailing only 2012’s 59.3 degrees (that year went on to become the hottest on record). The United States is also having its second-warmest year on record so far.

Since we turned on the heat in mid-June, abnormally hot afternoon highs have been the norm. The average since June 1 of 90 degrees ranks as the third highest on record to date, behind 2010 (90.4) and 1994 (90.6).

The 22 days with highs reaching at least 90 is eight ahead of the norm to date. Typically, it’s not until late July that we’ve seen this many 90 degree days. Last year, as of this date we only had 10 such days.

In addition to all of the 90 degree days, we’ve racked up nine with a high of at least 97 degrees, including the first 100 degree day since 2016. To date, the count is behind only 1991, which had nine, and 2012 at 12.

We’ve now had five days in a row with highs of at least 97 and will probably bring the streak to six days Wednesday — tying for the second longest on record, trailing only the tally of seven in 1953.

Low temperatures so far this summer rank as the second hottest on record to date. The average low of 71 degrees is only slightly cooler than 2010’s 71.2 degrees — which had the warmest nights to date.

We’ve already logged four nights with lows at or above 80 degrees, with three coming between Saturday and Monday. We’ll probably add another Wednesday, which would bring the total to five. The most lows of 80 or higher on record in a year is seven, last done in 2016.

The current heat wave, which began July 4, will probably end Friday. That’s when clouds and some tropical moisture pulled north by Hurricane Beryl’s remnants will briefly overtake the area, lowering temperatures somewhat (but not humidity). The chance of rain — much-needed because of growing drought conditions — should keep highs below 90, although the forecast could still shift drier and hotter.

Beyond that, highs at or above 90 will probably return for at least the next two weeks. With average highs of 90 until July 27, hot weather is expected. But computer models project that temperatures have a good chance to rise above the norm, well into the 90s to near 100 at times.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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