Intense heat in Maine likely will last until Tuesday, forecasters say

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Aug. 5—It's going to be a few more days before Mainers will get some relief from the oppressive heat and humidity that triggered a heat advisory Thursday.

The National Weather Service in Gray said the heat will continue Friday and persist through the weekend before the weather gradually starts to cool down on Tuesday.

"Tuesday will be significantly milder with highs in the low 80s and in the low 70s on Wednesday," meteorologist Stephen Baron said.

The heat index, defined as what the combination of actual air temperature and humidity feel like to the human body, was dangerously high in some places Thursday. Sanford reported the state's highest temperature on Thursday, coming in at a blistering 99 degrees.

Right behind Sanford were Fryeburg and Denmark at 97 degrees, and Augusta at 93 degrees — one degree shy of the record high for the date set in 1988 in Augusta. The Portland International Jetport reported a high temperature of 88 degrees at 1:26 p.m., far short of Portland's record of 93 degrees set in 1988. Portland on Thursday did break its 1988 record of 15 consecutive days with temperatures of 80 degrees or higher.

Coastal regions were noticeably cooler Thursday. Cape Elizabeth reported a high of 80 degrees, West Boothbay at 78 degrees and Cape Neddick at 76 degrees.

The intense heat and lack of rain is beginning to take its toll on Maine and other New England states. So far this year, Portland has recorded 15 inches of rain or about 7 inches below normal, Baron said.

Drought conditions are affecting Rhode Island, the eastern half of Massachusetts and the coastal areas of New Hampshire and southern Maine, which are all classified as "severe," the National Weather Service said Thursday. Much of the rest of New England remains in a moderate drought or is experiencing lower than normal rainfall, according to the agency's updated drought monitor. Rainfall totals are several inches below normal for this time of year in many parts of the region. High temperatures are contributing to the drought's impact, the agency said.

Coastal regions of York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo counties are in a severe drought situation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The inland sections of those counties along with parts of Hancock, Somerset and Penobscot counties are experiencing moderate drought conditions.

The Drought Monitor says that severe drought conditions can damage crops, dry up agricultural streams and ponds, and cause drops in large surface water levels.

Heat and dry conditions have also increased wildfire dangers in Maine.

The Maine Forest Service said Thursday that the wildfire danger in the region around Cornish, Lyman and Gray remains high. Moderate wildfire conditions are in effect for Portland and the state's coastal region, stretching all the way to Washington County.

Portland's Fire Department took three hours Thursday afternoon to extinguish a woods fire that broke out at the rear of the city's historic Evergreen Cemetery off Stevens Avenue. The Maine Forest Service was notified and is investigating the cause of the fire, which burned two acres.