Code Orange weather sends region in search of cool

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Kytja Weir

Washingtonians and the region's many visitors endured a preview of summer on Sunday, capping off a weekend of temperatures that shot into the 90s.

It was so hot and muggy that the region had a Code Orange ozone alert on Sunday. Many people may not have realized it was an air quality alert day -- meaning the elderly and sensitive are urged to stay indoors -- but they didn't need to know that to have a perspective on the weather.

"It's f-----g hot," said Jennifer Hartshorn, who came to the city with her daughters' Girl Scout troop from Hoboken, N.J., for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scout Sing-Along brought about 200,000 girls to the region. Hartshorn said her daughters, 9 and 11, and their friends were sweltering at Saturday's celebration on the National Mall.

"People were fighting over the water hose," the 42-year-old said. "It was like a refugee camp."

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said crews treated 63 people at the Mall on Saturday and transported 15 to local hospitals, despite having set up a cooling station there.

On Sunday morning, Hartshorn's troop hid out at an air-conditioned museum, then dipped their feet in the pool at the Sculpture Garden to cool off.

Elsewhere in the city, thousands braved sweltering conditions to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities at the Capital Pride Festival.

There, like everywhere else, getting enough to drink seemed to be the key for just about everyone.

Ron and Kenise Smith, a brother-and-sister team, had sold about 1,000 bottles of water and 500 more of soda at Capital Pride by about 3 p.m. They, too, were fighting the heat, easing their Rubbermaid wheelbarrow packed with ice under a tree to catch its shade. They had an advantage in staying hydrated, though, even if it meant sipping some of their profits.

About a block away, David Harper was standing in the sun handing out sunscreen, SPF-lipscreen and condoms to festivalgoers for his employer, health care company Kaiser Permanente. The 39-year-old had been out all day, first with a drum band then at his work booth. "I've already gone through six bottles of water, plus lemonade, and I have yet to pee," he said.

Meanwhile, Jordan Rose, 21, had the best seat, poised on the top of a dunking booth at the festival wearing just a tight swimsuit and a tan. The intern from Florida said he loves D.C. after just two weeks here, but the heat was a bit much. "I think D.C. should invest in a bubble to put over everything," he said.

Forecasters had initially projected another scorcher and Code Orange day for Monday, but the forecast has been tempered to highs in the upper 80s with a slight chance of showers.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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