Heat wave in D.C. area is just beginning, could last at least two weeks (2024)

Brace yourself for a prolonged period of heat that will, at times, reach intense, record-challenging levels in the Washington region.

While still rather tame, the hot weather early this week is just the beginning. If weather models are to be believed, there’s a decent chance that most days in the next two weeks will reach or surpass 90 degrees. Some of them could even flirt with 100.

Friday through Sunday may be the hottest stretch, when daytime readings could near the century mark and lows will barely fall below 80 in the city. These temperatures are about 10 to 15 degrees above average for the time of year.

This bout of heat will come with super-sunny skies and little to nothing in the way of rain through the weekend, bringing back drought concerns.

Humidity will be moderate to begin the week but will increase as temperatures rise, potentially sending heat index values — a measure of how hot it feels, factoring in the humidity — near 105 degrees by Friday.

Heat to intensify

Monday probably marked the first of many consecutive days of 90 degrees or higher. A heat wave is technically considered any period lasting at least three days with highs of 90 or higher (although some argue for a higher bar in the Washington region because hitting 90 is so common in midsummer).


The early days of this heat wave will be rather unremarkable, as highs in the low 90s aren’t that much above normal. But the heat will steadily intensify.

Models project highs between 95 and 103 Friday through Sunday. These longer-term predictions have tended to be a little hotter than reality in recent weeks, so hitting 100 isn’t a lock. But if the District manages to reach the triple digits, it would be the first instance since 2016, when it happened four times.

Record highs could be threatened

Beginning Tuesday, dozens of records for heat could fall across the Ohio Valley, the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic.

For records to fall in the Washington region, temperatures will need to rise to about 100, which is possible between Friday and Sunday but unlikely before that. Here are the predicted highs in Washington between Tuesday and Sunday, and the standing records:


  • Tuesday’s predicted high: 93; record high: 97.
  • Wednesday’s predicted high: 91; record high: 99.
  • Thursday’s predicted high: 93; record high: 99.
  • Friday’s predicted high: 97; record high: 99.
  • Saturday’s predicted high: 99; record high: 102.
  • Sunday’s predicted high: 97; record high: 98.

Record highs are more likely to occur at Dulles International Airport (where the history of observations is shorter than for the District). Records could be challenged there Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Record-warm lows will also become increasingly possible as nighttime temperatures rise this week. Lows may dip only to the mid-70s to about 80 this weekend.

The heat will probably extend beyond this week

With highs of at least 90 degrees forecast to continue into next week, this heat wave has the chance to become a notable one for its longevity. A typical summer experiences at least one streak of eight or nine straight days at or above 90. The streak beginning this week could easily exceed that if some model forecasts are correct.

The longest recorded streak of days at 90 or above is 21, set in 1980 and 1988.


It’s also possible we will string together a significant streak of days at 95 or above late this week and into next week. The longest such streak in an average year is about three or four days, and the stretch later this week has chance to at least match that. The longest such streak, of 12 days, occurred in June and July of 2012.

Time to start pleading for rain

The predicted extended period of heat; intense sunshine, as we near the summer solstice; and lack of rainfall could bring back drought concerns.

While some locations were doused on a few occasions by heavy thunderstorms in May and early June, it has been drier than normal this month, and April was dry, too. As such, “abnormally dry” conditions have returned to many parts of the region, after a cessation of last year’s drought over the winter, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Lower-than-usual soil moisture during a powerful heat wave near the solstice is a recipe for desiccated vegetation.


There’s little to no rain in the forecast until late this weekend or early next week as the first of perhaps several atmospheric disturbances scoots through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. Such disturbances could trigger thunderstorms, but their timing and placement are impossible to predict this far in advance.

Long-range forecasts point to more drier- and hotter-than-normal weather into July.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

Heat wave in D.C. area is just beginning, could last at least two weeks (2024)


How long does a heat wave last? ›

Heat Safety Resources

A heat wave is a period of abnormally hot weather generally lasting more than two days. Heat waves can occur with or without high humidity. They have potential to cover a large area, exposing a high number of people to hazardous heat.

What is causing this heat wave? ›

By SETH BORENSTEIN. Updated 12:31 AM PDT, June 20, 2024. WASHINGTON (AP) — Human-caused climate change dialed up the thermostat and turbocharged the odds of this month's killer heat that has been baking the Southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America, a new flash study found.

How many days of excessive heat and humidity are needed to be considered a heat wave? ›

For this reason, when temperatures are above 90 degrees for more than two days, it could be considered a heat wave. That said, heat waves can occur with or without humidity, which ultimately impacts heat index values and what the temperature actually feels like.

What temperature is considered to be the starting point of a heat wave? ›

They usually involve a period of at least two or more days of excessively hot weather. In the Northeast, a heat wave typically when the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32.2 °C) for three consecutive days. This is not always the case.

How long does it take to recover from a heat wave? ›

It can take a couple of days for you to completely recover. Follow these tips for recovery after hot weather or extreme heat: Continue to drink plenty of water so your body can get back on track. Open doors and windows to let cool air though your home.

What happens to your body during a heat wave? ›

The strain put on the body as it tries to cool itself also stresses the heart and kidneys. As a result, heat extremes can worsen health risks from chronic conditions (cardiovascular, mental, respiratory and diabetes related conditions) and cause acute kidney injury.

Will 2024 be hotter than 2023? ›

The current heat “is much more expected than the shattering of records by 0.3 degrees to 0.5 degrees we saw in the latter half of 2023,” Hausfather told CNN. Hausfather estimates a 66% chance that 2024 will be the hottest year on record, and a 99% chance it will be the second hottest.

What was the worst heat wave in the US history? ›

July 1936, part of the "Dust Bowl", produced one of the hottest summers on record across the country, especially across the Plains, Upper Midwest, and Great Lakes regions. Nationally, about 5,000 people died from the heat.

How to stay safe in heat wave? ›

  1. Keep cool: use air conditioning or a fan, wear light and loose-fitting clothing, and keep skin wet, using a spray bottle or damp sponge and by taking cool showers.
  2. Stay hydrated: during days of extreme heat, keep drinking water before you feel thirsty, especially if outdoors or performing physical activity.

How to survive extreme heat without air conditioning? ›

Here are 14 methods for doing so.
  1. Stay hydrated. ...
  2. Take a cold shower or bath. ...
  3. Use cold washrags on your neck or wrists. ...
  4. Use box fans. ...
  5. Close your curtains or blinds. ...
  6. Sleep in breathable linens. ...
  7. Sleep in the basem*nt. ...
  8. Don't refrigerate or freeze blankets or clothing.
Jul 18, 2022

What are heat danger days? ›

An extreme heat day is one that is warmer than 90 per cent of all observed temperatures at the site from 1991-2020. Dr Pershing said this was considered the point at which heat became particularly dangerous, with increases in temperature-related hospitalisations.

How long is the average heat wave? ›

A heat wave is defined as a period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather. Typically a heat wave lasts two or more days.

At what temperature is too hot to touch? ›

In high ambient temperature environments or where there is an elevated risk to the worker, many process engineers will use 120°F as the maximum safe-to-touch temperature to further reduce the risk to workers.

How cold does it have to be before you turn the heat on? ›

Most experts suggest that homeowners turn the heat on when indoor temperatures fall below 64°Fahrenheit. Some people prefer to keep it warmer, and some are completely content waiting for cooler weather.

What is the longest heat wave in history? ›

The longest continuous string of 38 °C (100 °F) or higher temperatures was reached for 101 days in Yuma, Arizona during 1937 and the highest temperatures ever reached in Canada were recorded in two locations in Saskatchewan in July 1937.

What not to do in a heat wave? ›

Stay out of the heat
  1. Do not go outside during the hottest times of the day if you can avoid it. Try to arrange your activities earlier or later in the day when it is cooler.
  2. When outside, wear sunscreen and try to stay in the shade or use hats and umbrellas for protection.

Is it safe to go out in a heat wave? ›

Outdoors, consider adding a wide-brimmed hat, and use sunscreen. Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer and can hinder your body's ability to cool itself. Also, be sure to take frequent breaks in an air-conditioned space. On sultry days, take it easy on outdoor physical activity, too.

How do you survive a heat wave? ›

Stay Cool
  1. Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible.
  2. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to your predesignated cool location.
  3. Wear lightweight, loose clothing and take cool showers or baths.
  4. Limit your outdoor activity. If you must work outdoors, schedule tasks earlier or later in the day.

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