Video: Heat warning system

updated 6/15/2005 12:27:30 PM ET 2005-06-15T16:27:30

The East Coast saw temperatures drop Wednesday after a heat spike Tuesday that forced early school closures in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

The District of Columbia Public Schools shut all 141 of its schools at 12:30 p.m. Some were completely without air conditioning, while others did not have enough to cope on the hottest day so far in 2005, when the National Weather Service had a heat advisory in effect for the region.

Forecasters called for the heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity — to be near 100 degrees much of the afternoon. By 4 p.m., the heat index reached 97 degrees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The normal high in the nation’s capital for June 14 is 84 degrees.

Asked about the decision to close, Mayor Anthony Williams said it was not for him to say as the mayor.

“I refrain from doing anything but fully supporting the superintendent of our schools. We’re developing a consistent policy on what to do when it snows and what to do when it’s really hot,” Williams said.

All after-school activities were canceled, but the mayor said recreation centers and most city swimming pools opened at 1 p.m.

“It’s too hot. They’re getting damp, and it’s so uncomfortable they can’t concentrate,” parent Ellen Lelander said outside Deal Junior High School in Northwest Washington.

DCPS warned there could be more closures.

“If the forecast holds up and we have more oppressive heat with high humidity on the way, we may make that decision later on in the week,” said spokeswoman Roxanne Evans.

The last day of school is June 21.

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