Sweltering heat will engulf most of Maine on Independence Day and air-conditioned relief will be harder to come by, with workplaces and public buildings that usually offer an escape in hot weather closed for the holiday.

The National Weather Service in Gray is forecasting clear skies for Wednesday night’s fireworks displays, but the state will have to endure extreme heat and humidity during the day.

Taylor Patterson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the high temperature in Portland is forecast to reach 88 degrees Wednesday. Tuesday’s high in Portland was 86, far below the city’s record for the date of 95 degrees in 2002.

Patterson said relief from the heat and humidity is coming in a couple of days. Temperatures should start to decline Friday and by the weekend, most of the state will have highs in the 70s.

With their library closed Wednesday, Scarborough officials, in a post on the fire department’s Facebook page, encouraged residents to visit the Maine Mall in South Portland if they are seeking air conditioning. Scarborough’s library will be open Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Stores at the Maine Mall, which maintains an indoor temperature of around 70, will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The city of Portland is encouraging residents to make use of city parks and pools. Spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said the Kiwanis Community Pool at 165 Douglass St. will be open Wednesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Extended hours at the Kiwanis pool splash pad will be in effect on Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Grondin said the wading pool at Deering Oaks park will be open for the holiday as well as splash pads at Stone Street and Payson Park.

While many people will seek relief at the beach, the National Weather Service says swimmers should be cautious. While air temperatures may seem oppressive, the ocean water temperature remains dangerously cold for anyone staying in for an extended period.

“The warm air temperatures in the mid to upper 80s may cause people to underestimate the dangers of the cold water temperatures which are currently only in the upper 50s,” the National Weather Service cautioned. “The cold water temperatures can quickly cause hypothermia to anyone immersed in the water.”

The Maine Department of Transportation on Twitter urged drivers to stay focused and drive safely on congested roads.

“Maine roads will be busy and with this heat, tempers may flare,” the transportation department tweeted.

The department also used humor on electronic road signs, two of which were posted on its twitter account, including “Let Freedom Ring, Hang up the Phone,” and “You’re Not A Sparkler, Don’t Drive Lit.”

Despite more muggy weather Wednesday and Thursday, air quality in much of the state is expected to improve.

Unhealthy air quality levels that affected most of Maine on Tuesday will improve slightly Wednesday. Martha Webster, a meteorologist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Bureau, said ozone levels will be good throughout the state except for the southwest coastal area, where they are expected to be moderate.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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