By Joe Beck
Wilting heat flowed into the area on Monday and was expected to linger through much of the week with an increasing chance of thunderstorms over the next couple of days.
The National Weather Service in Sterling predicted high temperatures above 90 to last through Wednesday with a bit of relief arriving on Thursday.
Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Witt said the projected temperatures are 10 to 12 degrees higher than normal for this time of year.
The Weather Service said high pressure to the south was moving off to the east Monday afternoon and causing a southerly airflow around the high to pump heat and humidity into the region.
The Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook Monday afternoon that warned of the possibility of scattered thunderstorms in Warren, Shenandoah and Frederick counties and surrounding areas in northern and central Virginia and eastern West Virginia.
"The ridge of high pressure over us is breaking down, and it's breaking down more every day, and as we get more energy from the west, it increases our chances for storms," Witt said.
One storm moved through the area at around 6 p.m. Monday. Wednesday is likely to bring the greatest chances of thunderstorms, according to the forecast. A high temperature of 95 is forecast along with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms mainly around midnight.
Witt said Thursday "doesn't look as warm" with a high temperature of around 90, although there will still be a chance of showers.
Witt urged people to "pay attention to any warnings from TV or radio. We want people to heed those warnings."
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah Çounty Sheriff's Office said the higher temperatures increase the risks of dogs and other animals being trapped in overheated vehicles while their owners shop or run errands.
Pet owners can be charged with a felony if an animal suffers or dies in a hot car.
"An animal depends on its owner to take care of it," Proctor said. "It is not a good decision to leave an animal in a vehicle at this time of year, especially with the window up.
"A day like today, the temperature can reach 100 degrees very quickly, even if you crack the window. Our advice is for people to take precautions and think about what you're going to do."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org