Portland could break a 70-year-old high temperature record Saturday when a scorching wave of summer heat that has been affecting much of the United States finally arrives in Maine.

The heat index, a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature, will make it feel like it’s 100 degrees in Portland by Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Gray. It could feel like 105 degrees in Sanford and 110 degrees in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturday.

“It is going to be oppressively hot,” Hunter Tubbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Thursday. “Saturday is going to be the day to stay in air conditioning.”

Tubbs said the air temperature Saturday in Portland is expected to hit 96 degrees, equaling the record set in 1949. Overnight temperatures Saturday into Sunday will remain in the low to mid 70s. A cold front is expected to flow into Maine on Sunday afternoon, which should bring temperatures down.

“Saturday and part of Sunday will be the worst of it,” Tubbs said.

Maine Medical Center’s Emergency Department is prepared to deal with heat-related illnesses, but Nate Mick, associate chief of emergency room medicine, hopes people won’t need to seek emergency care and will choose instead to take it easy on Saturday.

Mick recommends avoiding exercise, such as running, during the heat of the day. That means exercising during the early morning or at dusk.

“Going to the beach is probably OK because it tends to be a bit cooler near the water,” Mick said. But those with existing medical conditions, infants and the elderly might want to avoid direct sunlight.

“I’m planning on staying inside, watching a movie or the British Open with a fan on,” he said. Mick recommends avoiding caffeine, which can dehydrate people, and instead drink lots of water and clear liquids.

“In Maine, we are well-versed in dealing with the cold and snow, but this kind of extreme heat tends to set people off,” Mick said.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat watch Thursday for portions of southern New Hampshire on Saturday and a hazardous weather outlook for most of Maine. A few thunderstorms could break out Saturday night.

The weather service advisory prompted organizers of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic to push back the start of Saturday’s game at Thornton Academy in Saco by an hour and a half. The annual showcase featuring the state’s top graduated seniors will start at 5:30 p.m.

Several agencies issued warnings Thursday on how to avoid heat-related illnesses and heat stroke.

Cumberland County’s Emergency Management Agency posted a list of cooling centers and their hours on its Facebook page that included the Portland Public Library, the Falmouth Family Ice Center, the Freeport Community Library, the Scarborough Public Library, the Gray Public Library and the Gray Town Office.

“Cooling centers are designated locations that you can visit to get out of the heat and cool off,” the county’s Facebook post said. “In addition to cooling centers, you might have a store or shopping center, community center or friend to visit that has a cool place where you can rest.”

Maine’s Animal Welfare Program urged pet and livestock owners to take extra steps to make sure their animals are protected from the heat and are kept well hydrated. The program said heat stroke poses a threat to pets and livestock.

The agency says a pet owners should never leave an animal in a parked vehicle during extreme heat, even if it is only for a few minutes. Pets should be supplied with plenty of water and exercise should be avoided. Owners should keep their pets in the shade, air conditioning or a cool basement.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a list of indicators of heat related illnesses on its website that included symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash. The CDC also urged anyone who has to work outside Saturday such as construction workers, roofers, pavers and farmers to drink plenty of water, take rest breaks and seek shade whenever possible.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, the CDC warns. Anyone with heat stroke should seek immediate emergency care. Symptoms include hot, dry or red skin; lack of sweating, rapid pulse, body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, rapid, shallow breathing and confusion or loss of alertness.

The American Red Cross’s Maine chapter issued a stay safe tip sheet Thursday.

“Summer heat and humidity can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year,” the Red Cross said in a news release.





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