The heat wave may have been getting ready to weaken just a little Sunday, weather forecasters said, but not before it broke the Triangle daily high temperature record for the third day in a row, getting to 102 degrees at Raleigh Durham International Airport at 2 p.m.
The July 1 high record had been 99 degrees, last matched in 2005.
The atmosphere Sunday had more activity than in recent days, and thunderstorm warnings and watches and high-wind advisories popped up across Triangle counties.
About 7,800 Progress Energy customers in the Roxboro and Oxford areas lost power, the company said.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service said data showed the intense heat might be ready to slack off just a shade on Monday, and on Sunday, they changed the extreme-heat watch for the Triangle to a warning, a step lower.
There also is a chance for a third night of high winds, they said.
The temperature hit 105 degrees on Saturday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, tying the mark also reached on Friday for the highest-ever recorded temperature at the airport. Saturday’s mark also broke the June 30 record temperature of 102 degrees set in 1945 and 1959.
Forecasters are projecting that temperatures will dip to 101 degrees in the Triangle on Sunday and 100 degrees on Monday. An excessive-heat warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect.
“It’s still going to be hot and tough on people,” said Barrett Smith, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
On top of that, some people were unlucky enough not to have power on Saturday as the result of dry wind storms that blew through the Triangle late Friday, bringing trees down onto power lines.
At one point, Duke Energy had 18,000 customers without power in its service territory in North and South Carolina. Triangle outages were as high as 644 in Durham and 125 in Orange counties. By Saturday evening, Duke was reporting total outages of about 3,000 customers.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Shirley Moore said extra crews were working and she emphasized that the company knows how important power is for air conditioning during the high heat. The utility was reconnecting customers as fast as it could, she said.
Triangle residents did the best they could on Saturday to cope with the scorching weather.
Many people hid from the heat wave behind their air-conditioning, but the weather didn’t stop more than 300 people from showing up to run Saturday morning in Raleigh’s Finest 5K, a charity event for the benefit of firefighters and other public safety workers killed in the line of duty.
Even though the temperature hadn’t gone into overdrive at 8 a.m., the sun was intense enough that a few participants were visibly sweating even before they started running. A common refrain among the participants before the opening whistle sounded was that this wasn’t the day to try and beat their personal best.
“What is excruciating is you pretty much can’t catch your breath,” said Anjanette Harris, 47, of Raleigh. “It just feels like you are fighting against everything.”
Jill Kissinger-Hawks said she and fellow co-organizer Melissa Johnson – both of whose husbands were Raleigh firefighters killed on the job – decided not to postpone this year’s event in part because it wouldn’t be in keeping with their late husbands’ gung-ho attitude.
“They would want us to go on no matter what,” Kissinger-Hawks said.
In addition, said Kissinger-Hawks, the heat Saturday morning was nothing compared to the searing temperatures firefighters face – weighed down by about 65 pounds of gear – when they enter a blazing home.
But the heat was too much of a risk for some people.
The Capital Area Soccer League’s Friendship Cup youth soccer tournament scheduled for Saturday was postponed until next weekend. The group was expecting 200 young athletes to participate.
“We would have loved for them to be out there,” said Caleb Norkus, community outreach organizer for the Capital Area Soccer League. “But the safety of the kids came first.”
Rather than running around outside, a lot of people ran straight to their cars to go see a movie.
More than 1,500 people had been at the Raleigh Grande Theater by mid-Saturday afternoon with as many as 4,000 expected by the end of the day, according to Darren Schaefer, a theater manager. Schaefer said ticket sales have been going crazy since Friday.
“People kept coming in,” Schaefer said. “They didn’t want to be outside in the heat.”
Some things couldn’t be called off Saturday. Tracy Adams, a wedding planner and owner of Adams & Events, was grateful that the Saturday afternoon wedding he was going to at the Prestonwood Country Club in Cary was being held indoors
Adams said some adjustments were made like cancelling the outdoor pre-wedding photos of the wedding party.
“By the time they spent all the money on makeup, you didn’t want it to melt away,” he said.
Staff writer Ron Gallagher contributed to this report.