It’s been a couple of years, but really hot temperatures are back to broil Williamsburg. As the weekend nears, the area will heat up with temperatures in upper 90s and oppressive humidity.
National Weather Service forecasters have called for excessive heat Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a heat index of 110 degrees. Temperatures will approach highs last reached in 2012.
It might be better to go to the movies instead of the beach, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Zimmerman. He warned folks to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.
“Short durations outside are better, especially if you’re visiting Colonial Williamsburg,” Williamsburg Police Department spokesman Charles Ericsson said. “If you can plan it out so that you are going from building to building and not spending too much time out in the heat, that would be best.”
The National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Health both issued warnings about the extreme heat.
“This is typically the hottest time of the year,” National Weather Service meteorologist Wayne Albright said.
Forecasters anticipate it will be so hot that they’ll need to look at the dew point for an area instead of relative humidity as a better indicator of just how much moisture is in the air, Zimmerman said. “It’s going to be very hot, very humid, and it’s definitely going to be noticeable when you go outside.”
The higher the dew point, the more moisture is in the air; Williamsburg should expect dew points in the 70s, according to Zimmerman.
Humidity and temperatures will come down next week, returning to a more normal pattern, Zimmerman said. A temperature of 90 degrees is normal in July.
Williamsburg has not had a 99-degree day since July 22, 2017, according to U.S. Climate Data information. Last June and July, the hottest temperatures were 96 and 94 degrees, respectively.
High temperatures in the Historic Triangle this weekend will approach record temperatures set on July 24 and 25, 2010: 103 degrees, Zimmerman said.
Temperatures typically do not rise above 100 in the Mid-Atlantic region because of the amount of vegetation, said Mike Dutter, science operations officer for NWS in Wakefield. Vegetation keeps the temperature down, but not without consequence.
“The problem with all that vegetation is that allows our humidity to be higher,” he said.
This weekend’s temperatures will mark a heatwave, Dutter said, and it’s not a local one. He expects the heat to be comparable elsewhere, particularly for the rest of the East Coast.
That heatwave is expected to crest on Sunday and slowly go back to normal by next week.
To stay safe in the heat, children, pets and elderly individuals should not be left in cars, and folks should check in on those who do not have air conditioning, according to James City County Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.
“[They’ll call us] if they know a friend or family member doesn’t have air conditioning and they can’t get in touch with them, but even then that’s not a large number [of our calls],” she said. “It just would be the type of call that might stand out for us during the high heat like this.”
During times of excessive heat, incidents of heat-related illnesses increase, according to Williamsburg Fire Department interim chief Larry Snyder. The calls his department receives come from individuals not used to being out in the heat for a long time.
“[Our] older population may be out visiting different attractions within the city or within the Greater Williamsburg area who, by virtue of being outside, are exposed to some of the heat and conditions, some of them longer than normal,” Snyder said.
The National Weather Service notes folks can prevent potentially life-threatening, heat-related illnesses by practicing safe habits.
The service recommends people drink plenty of water, take breaks and limit activities outdoors, never leave children or pets unattended in cars and check on loved ones and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, especially if they are elderly.
Want more information?
Designated cooling centers
James City County Library, 7770 Croaker Road
James City County Recreation Center, 5301 Longhill Road
Human Services Center, 5249 Olde Towne Road
Suggested places to cool down
Yorktown Library, 8500 George Washington Memorial Hwy.
Tabb Library, 100 Long Green Blvd.
Quarterpath Recreation Center, 202 Quarterpath Road
Williamsburg Library, 515 Scotland St.
For more information about the centers, call 757-259-4200. You cannot bring non-service animals into the cooling centers with you.
Virginia’s Cooling Assistance Program
To be eligible for assistance, you must have a child younger than 6, a person with disabilities or a person older than 60 living in your household. Income restrictions also apply. You can apply to the program through CommonHelp or by calling 855-635-4370 until Aug. 15. James City residents should call 259-3100 or visit the county’s social services office on 5249 Olde Towne Road. York residents should call 890-3787 or visit the county’s social services office at 301 Goodwin Neck Road. Williamsburg residents should call 220-6161 or visit the city’s human services office at 401 Lafayette St. For more information about assistance, visit dss.virginia.gov/benefit/ea/.
Peninsula Agency on Aging’s Senior Cool Care Program
This nonprofit offers seniors 60 and older free box fan unit air conditioners. Income restrictions apply. Call 873-0541 or visit paainc.org to learn more.