July 6, 2010

Heat breaks record in Portland

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Portland set a heat record today.

click image to enlarge

Sunbathers crowd Sandy Point as kids look for crabs during low tide on Cousins Island in Yarmouth. The beach is submerged during high tide so timing is important, according to a regular visitor.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

The temperature at the Portland International Jetport was 92 degrees at 1:10 p.m. The previous record high for July 6 was set in 1952 when the temperature rose to 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The normal temperature for the date is a pleasant 78 degrees.

The temperature could still rise another degree or two before a sea breeze cools things down later today, according to Andy Pohl, a meteorologist with the weather service.

The real heat, however, is inland.

Sanford hit 95 degrees this afternoon. This is the third day of 90-degree-plus temperatures in Sanford, which earns the town the distinction of having an official heat wave. It was 91 on Sunday and 93 yesterday.

Southern Maine should be back into the 80s tomorrow, although temperatures are expected to stay above normal for the rest of the week. The next good chance of rain appears to be on Saturday, Pohl said.

The director of Maine's Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to be on the lookout for signs of heat illness.

“Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, yet over the past 30 years more people have died in this country from heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined,” Dr. Dora Anne Mills. “All Mainers should take the simple measures of keeping cool, drinking adequate fluids, and lying low to prevent heat-related illness.”

People most susceptible include infants and young children, adults over age 65, people with mental illness and those who are physically ill with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

The hot weather has not led to an official heat advisory for Maine as it has in states to the west and south.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for interior sections of New Hampshire, for example. Even Portsmouth, on the New Hampshire coast, hit 97 around noon on today.

It may be uncomfortable out there, but New Englanders do not appear to be breaking records for electricity use of four years ago. The cool economy may have something to do with that.

Ellen Foley, spokeswoman for ISO-New England, the region's grid operator, said today that consumer demand is expected to reach a peak of 27,000 megawatts. The record is 28,130 megawatts used on Aug. 2, 2006.

She says the long holiday weekend when offices and some businesses were closed, the weak economy that has pushed down energy demand and improved energy efficiency should ensure that electricity use won't be a record-breaker.

If necessary, Foley says ISO can bring in electricity from outside the region, call on large customers to cut electricity use and ask all consumers to turn down or shut off appliances.

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