Wednesday July 17, 2013 | 09:18 PM
Posted by David Epstein

Thunderstorms are crossing into western Maine and could give some areas a quick downpour with some vivid lightning.  The heat wave continued inland today, but coastal areas stayed in the 80s.  Portland only reached the mid-80s with oppressive humidity.  The inland heat has been particularly intense with many areas seeing their 4th day in a row at or over 90F.  

I was watering some containers outside earlier and thinking about what to write in the blog.  For some of you, this heat is quite enjoyable. I have a friend who loves this weather, day after day of it.  For me, summer is fun, but this type of heat is too much.  I grew up in Maine and we had years when it never hit 90F.   This heat isn't setting any temperature records, but it seems like the humidity has been high for many more days than I remember in the past.  Our collective memories tend to forget a lot of things, so maybe it was this humid in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid, but I don't recall.

I can't imagine living in places that see this sort of heat as routine day after day for 3 months or more.  Imagine what it must be like in a place like Dohar, Qatar.  The highs all month exceed 100F and a cool night goes below 90F.  That type of heat is just amazing and shows what humans can get use to.

This doesn't mean the heat can't be dangerous, it certainly puts a strain on your body, but if you're generally smart about keeping hydrated and not running a 10 mile loop in this weather you'll be fine.  Don't however underestimate how fast the car can heat up, even with the windows left partially open.  This is not the type of weather to leave an animal in the car.

Tomorrow will be another day of 90 plus heat inland and 80s at the coast.  All areas will have humidity and there is a chance for a thunderstorm in the evening.  If you do get a storm they could be strong and will certainly have heavy rain.  

These types of heat waves tend to break down with the possibility of severe weather.  As cooler and drier air slowly makes its way south into the United States the chance of storms will increase.  The greatest likelihood of storms will come Saturday afternoon and evening when the cold front crosses the area and finally breaks the back of the heat.

Starting Sunday cooler and drier air will be entrenched across the region.  High temperatures in the lower 80s will replace the mid-90s and humidity levels will fall low enough to open the windows at night much of next week.  While I can't predict the rest of the summer, my educated thinking is that this week will end up as the hottest and most intense week of temperature and humidity for the summer of 2013. 

All this heat is taking its toll on us as well as plants and animals.  I recommend using the cooler mornings to check on your gardens.  As temperatures approach or exceed 90F again tomorrow, it’s going to be harder to work outside.  A few suggestions would be to stake up perennials, weed, weed, weed, and notice which areas of the garden still might need some added water.

If you want to plant some new seedlings, there is certainly time to do that.  The video below shows how I am growing lettuce in containers right now.  I have a tray of seedlings I started two weeks ago which can be place in the ground in about a week.

I'll be updating the details of the weather on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.

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About the Author

David Epstein has been a meteorologist for more than 25 years. He spent 16 years in Boston and currently freelances at WGME13 in Portland.

In 2006, David founded GrowingWisdom.com, a business producing educational and marketing videos for the green industry. He currently is a professor at Framingham State College, teaches Jan Plan at Colby College and owns Bloomscapes Inc., a landscape design business.

David authored "Gardens Of New England" and his work has been published in Grolier's Science Annual for 10 years. He lives in South Natick, Mass., and has a summer home in Harpswell.

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