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Air Quality Alert

DC to feel almost as hot as Death Valley on Saturday

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 20, 2019, 4:01:11 PM EDT

This story has been updated. This new story has the latest information on the heat and when cooler air is forecast to arrive.

The northeastern United States will sizzle this week as summer heat builds to near-record levels in some places, with many metropolitan areas experiencing the hottest air temperatures of the summer so far as a heat wave envelopes a wide swath of the United States.

In the nation's capital, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures on Saturday are forecast to reach 110 F, just 2 degrees shy of the RealFeel Temperature forecast for Death Valley, California, on the same day.

Washington, D.C., will also swelter with a forecast high of 100; however, the nation's capital likely won't break its daily and all-time high of 106 hit on July 20, 1930, about 12 years after the mercury hit 106 in 1918. However, this is forecast to be the first triple-digit heat to grip the nation's capital since the summer of 2016.

Northeast heat records

While actual temperatures will be higher in Death Valley, humidity levels will make it feel as hot or hotter than the Southwest in parts of the Central and Eastern states.

"The combination of sunshine, temperature, humidity levels and other factors will push RealFeel Temperatures well into the danger level past 105 degrees during the late morning and afternoon hours," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson cautioned.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a heat emergency on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia and New York City followed suit and declared emergencies due to the heat. According to a press release New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, approximately 500 cooling centers have been activated around the city.

“Extreme heat is dangerous, period,” de Blasio said in a statement. “I urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution this weekend as temperatures near 100." He added, "We are deploying all resources at our disposal to ensure New Yorkers remain safe and cool during extreme heat.”

Intense July sunshine combined with a northward retreat of the jet stream will allow an impressive heat wave to build even for midsummer standards for many locations across the Northeast.

Sun RF July 20

"Actual temperatures in some of the major cities, such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City are likely to peak within a few degrees of the century mark at the peak of the heat wave this weekend," Anderson said.

At this level, temperatures will be 10-15 degrees above average even for the middle of the summer.

"Cooling demands will surge with the intense heat wave," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Last Time 100 F

As hot as it will be this weekend in the New York City area, the Big Apple's all-time high temperature record of 106, set on July 9, 1936, is not in danger of falling.

With a forecast high of 100, Philadelphia could break its daily record high of 99 on Saturday. The RealFeel Temperature will be sweltering as it climbs near 110. The City of Brotherly Love hasn't recorded triple-digit heat since July 2012.

All-Time records

Other spots on the East Coast that will feel the heat and challenge records on Saturday include Richmond, Virginia, which is forecast to hit 101. Its record high for the day is 103. Most places won't set all-time or monthly heat records.

While a weak sea breeze will keep the immediate beaches slightly cooler, temperatures are still likely to approach 90. However, the surf zone will provide some relief with ocean water temperatures ranging from the lower 60s in southern Maine to the lower 80s in southeastern Virginia. Water temperatures in Lake Erie are generally in the 70s, while waters in Lake Michigan range from the lower 60s to the lower 70s.

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People should avoid strenuous activity during the peak of the heat and when the sun is high in the sky. Be sure to stay hydrated by consuming non-alcoholic fluids at regular intervals.

Heat kills more people on an annual basis than any other weather factor.

Weather Fatality Comparison

The temperature of paved and concrete surfaces can be dozens of degrees higher than the air temperature. Not only does this contribute to a buildup of excessive heat in urban areas, but it can also be a safety hazard.

The hot pavement can also burn bare feet and pets' paws.

Motorists on the highway are reminded to reduce their speed during extremely hot weather. Driving at high speed, excessive braking and weaving in and out of traffic during very hot weather can cause the tire temperature to exceed manufacturer's safety limits and lead to a blowout.

US Next Week

"Temperatures are forecast to throttle back to seasonable levels or even slightly below average for a time next week in the East as heat shifts to the western U.S.," Pastelok said. "There should also be a substantial drop in humidity in the Northeast next week."

Highs most days next week will range from the middle 70s over the higher mountains to near 90 in southeastern Virginia.

Download the free AccuWeather app for more details on temperature trends in your community. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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