Expected record heat for Connecticut falls short on Saturday

Photo of Ben Lambert

NEW HAVEN — The first hot weekend of the year brought a potential for record-breaking temperatures across Connecticut, but numbers fell short on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures reached 90 in Hartford and at Bradley International Airport on Saturday, just shy of the record of 93.

In Bridgeport, temperatures only reached 79.

A high of 97 is expected Sunday, forecasters said.

Forecasters said a heat advisory began in much of the state about noon Saturday, including all of Litchfield and Fairfield counties and portions of northern New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties.

The heat index — “a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature,” according to the National Weather Service — was expected to exceed 95 degrees across much of the state, officials said.

“The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity levels may cause heat illnesses to occur if precautions are not taken,” forecasters with the weather service said.

Forecasters advised residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, check up on relatives and neighbors and to reschedule strenuous outdoor activities to the early morning or evening.

“Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside,” they said.

DEEP also said that ozone levels will be elevated during hot weather, including Saturday, when the concentration of particles may reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals.

“With summer-like temperatures expected this weekend, more people will be taking to the outdoors for all types of recreational activities, including visiting one of Connecticut’s many beautiful beaches or state parks,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “As our weather warms up, all the conditions for ozone production are in place and we expect to see elevated levels across coastal towns extending from Greenwich to Stonington (and) up to East Hartford.

“Vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory diseases — and even healthy adults who spend prolonged periods outdoors working or exercising — should take care to recognize the effects of air pollution and curtail strenuous activity when our air quality is impaired,” said Dykes.

Peak ozone levels generally occur between 2 and 8 p.m., officials said.

Some cities and towns in Connecticut have opened cooling centers for the weekend, allowing local residents to stop in and beat the heat.

Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo sent out a note Friday reminding residents that town has cool spaces to spend time in if the weather gets too hot.

“With the forecast for hot, humid summer-like weather this weekend, please remember that if you need some cool relief — please check out our libraries. They are readily available as cooling centers,” he said.

Rick Fontana, emergency management director in New Haven, noted that Lighthouse Park will be open this weekend, as will the splash pad there.

He advised people to be cautious when moving through the city this weekend, including during Class Day and commencement at Yale on Monday.

“Record temperatures are expected in many areas throughout the state and being the first hot days of the summer, we want to ensure we are all situationally aware of the impacts the summer weather brings,” said Fontana. “With that said, please be sure to hydrate, wear light colored and loose clothing, and stay out of the direct sunlight when possible.”

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urged residents to take precautions when getting out on the water this weekend, noting that the waters are “much colder than we will see during the summer months.”

“Most visitors will find the current water temperatures much too cold to enter the water to cool off on what will be very hot days. There is also a very real danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter the water for any extended period of time,” DEEP officials said. “Visitors to our state parks should also be aware that there will be no lifeguards on duty this early in the season, and that water safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Among other tips, DEEP officials advised parents to keep an eye on their children near water, noting that it “only takes seconds for a child to drown.” Everybody should also remain aware of hazards beneath the surface, swim only in designated areas and drink in moderation.

Boaters should wear life jackets, paddle with a partner and dress for the water temperature, officials said.

“DEEP reminds all boaters that cold water temperatures create substantial dangers to unprepared recreational boaters even though air temperatures are forecast to be high this weekend. Paddlers should exercise caution and use proper equipment, practice safety techniques, wear a life jacket and avoid dangerous situations. Paddlers should always be prepared for a sudden cold-water immersion,” officials said. “Over the last six years, Connecticut families have grieved the loss of seven paddler fatalities during spring’s cold water boating season.”

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com. Staff writer Joe Morelli contributed to this story.