Updated at 6:27 p.m.
The temperature soared to 100 degrees on Friday in Portland for only the fourth time since records have been kept as oppressive heat that gripped the Midwest moved to the nation’s northeasternmost tip, a region where many homeowners don’t even have air conditioners in their homes.
It was the first time the city hit triple digits since 1975, according to the National Weather Service, and the 100-degree reading broke the record for the date of 94 set in 1994 and the all-time high of 99 for the month.
“It’s pretty darned hot,” said Margaret Curtis, a weather service meteorologist based in Gray.
The temperature briefly hit 101, but it didn’t stay long enough to account for the official record, she said.
Either way, it was just shy of the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city: 103 degrees on Aug. 2, 1975.
UPDATED 4:25 p.m.
Portland plans to reopen its cooling centers again Saturday, city officials said.
The main library branch on Monument Square will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Bernstein Room at the Barron Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition, “splash pads” – fountains at four city parks for children to run through to cool down – will stay open until 9 p.m. tonight and re-open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The splash pads are at the playgrounds at Stone Street, Payson Park, the Kiwanis Pool at Doublass Circle and the Deering Oaks ravine.
Central Maine Power Co. also said power usage hit an all-time high of more than 1,700 megawatts early Friday afternoon. The previous record was 1,682 megawatts, set on July 19, 2005.
UPDATED 3:55 p.m.
The temperature topped the century mark and set a new record for July, the National Weather Service said.
Meteorologist Margaret Curtis said the temperature hit 101 degrees at 3:11 p.m. That mark set records for both the date and the month of July. The all-time high in Portland is 103 degrees set on Aug. 2, 1975.
UPDATED 3:30 p.m.
Power has been restored to those areas that lost electric service shortly after noon. Central Maine Power Co. officials said power was restored after about two hours.
UPDATED 12.40 p.m.
PORTLAND – A new record high for July 22 was set shortly after noon, when the official temperature hit 95 degrees, exceeding the old record of 94.
About the same time, a power line in South Portland failed, causing a power outage affecting about 13,000 customers in Scarborough, Saco and Old Orchard Beach, Central Maine Power Co. said. A crew was working on the problem and other workers were en route, but the utility said it had no estimate for when power would be restored.
Temperature records tumbled Friday as the mercury in thermometers soared.
Towns and cities opened up “cooling stations” – air-conditioned public buildings where residents could go to beat the heat. Scarborough Public Library; Westbrook Middle School; town offices in Harrison; the Portland Public Library on Monument Square; and the Bernstein Room at the Barron Center in Portland were all opened as places for people to go to cool off.
Scarborough Downs cancelled harness racing Friday, citing concerns over the health and safety of horses and drivers.
The record high for July 22 of 94 degrees was expected to be eclipsed as the temperature hit 93 degrees shortly before noon, said Mike Kistner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said. The temperature is expected to peak in mid-afternoon in the upper 90s, he said, meaning the all-time high of 103 degrees is expected to remain intact.
Kistner said the temperature only fell to 75 degrees overnight. If the temperature doesn’t fall below that before midnight, he said, that would represent an all-time highest low temperature for Portland.
Electricity use is rising as well. The Connecticut Valley Electricity Exchange had forecast power demand to peak at about 27,200 megawatts this afternoon around 3 p.m., but by noon, the demand had already exceeded that level. See a graphic of electricity usage in New England here: http://www.cvx.com/java/NELoadGraph.htm
In Maine, the all-time demand record is 1,680 megawatts, set in August 2006. Central Maine Power Co. spokesman John Carroll said the utility believes it’s likely that record will fall today.