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It’s summer, so it should not come as a surprise to see the temperatures climb into the 90’s. But when they stay in the 90s and start to flirt with triple digits, that’s when we seem to take note. As the area approached the weekend, there were excessive heat warnings in place as temperatures were forecast to reach 100 degrees.
Saturday’s temperature actually surpassed the forecasted peak, reaching a record 103 degrees at about 4 p.m. in Reading, before thunderstorms moved in to begin to break the heat wave. Saturday’s record broke the previous record for the date of 101 set in 2010.
The area has seen several periods with temperatures above 90 degrees so far this summer. But this latest heat wave lasted 10 days. The high on Sunday was 89 degrees. A heat wave is officially declared when temperatures are at 90-degrees or above for three days in a row. This latest wave began June 28, with the worst of the heat arriving on Saturday. Coupled with oppressive humidity, an excessive heat warning had been issued for the area and remained in effect through Saturday.
According to Andy Mussolini, meteorologist for accuweather.com, temperature records were being set across the mid-west and the Ohio Valley. A cold front that set up just to the north of the region allowed “that drier, hotter air to sneak in,” bringing “the true core of the heat.”
Mussolini said temperatures will moderate a bit this week. “One of the big changes for next week is that the humidity is coming down. Temperatures will be getting back to where they should be. The normal high for this time of the year is 85,” he said.
Tom Kines, senior meteorologist for accuweather.com said this week will be more comfortable. “As we get later into the week we may have to contend with the humidity coming back in and with that humidity will come the risk of a thunderstorm,” he said.
Saturday’s record was well shy of Berks County’s all-time high of 106 degrees set at Reading Regional Airport last year on July 22. That new all-time high broke a record of 105 degrees that had stood since August 7, 1918.
The record setting temperatures have reached many people across the country, with some areas seeing triple digit temperatures for several days in a row. As the temperatures rise, and people increase their usage of fans and air conditioning, there is an increased demand for electricity.
The PJM Interconnection, the grid operator that manages the high voltage transmission system in all or parts of 13 states and Washington, D.C. (including Pennsylvania), reports that despite the extended heat wave and records, no new peak power usage record was set during the period. The previous peak of 163,760 megawatts was set July 21, 2011. One megawatt is enough to power about 1,000 homes.