New England springs, notoriously fickle and reluctant to cede to the warmer season, like to give up slowly, even after the calendar has declared them done.
“Most years, you need to guess when summer comes,” said Cyral Miller of Roxbury, smoldering in near-record heat next to his slushy cart, Fat Slushy’s. “But not today.”
The first official day of summer arrived Wednesday with a blast, with temperatures soaring to 96 degrees in Boston, two degrees short of a record and a searing contrast to sweater weather just a few days before.
And it’s only going to get hotter.
The National Weather Service is predicting 99 degrees for Logan Airport Thursday, but inland temperatures could easily poke into triple digits, according to meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell in the Taunton office.
“It will be oppressive,” he said, adding that humidity could make it feel like 105, the threshold for an official heat warning.
Around the city Wednesday, as summer announced its presence in no uncertain turns, residents responded in kind, particularly at the 52 city parks that have some sort of water spray feature.
In Hyde Park, the Olsen Spray Deck, an elaborate miniature water park, was jammed with children squealing in the midday sun as parents lined the borders, crowded into the few shady areas.
“We came here looking for something refreshing,” said Gbenade Tossoukpe of West Roxbury, who had brought his three children to cool off. Just then, his 7-year-old son, Norbert, delivered that refreshment by dumping a bucket of water over his head, kicking off an epic water fight where Dad was the biggest kid of all.
Kelly Morrissey of West Roxbury had grown up going to the attached pool, which, like many city pools, does not open until this weekend. Being back there with her two daughters, who took a break to eat snow cones that dripped down their arms, reminded her of the summers of her youth.
“It’s just exciting to be out of school, to have a relaxed pace,” she said. “And it always seems like summer happens like this; you wait for it, then it’s here in an instant.”
Health officials say the heat can become deadly, especially for the very young and very old.
“We do expect that the number of incidents will rise over these days with extreme heat,” said Jennifer Mehigan, spokeswoman for Boston Emergency Medical Services, which has added three extra ambulance crews in anticipation of heat-related illness.
Mehigan said the city is asking residents to check on elderly family members, elderly neighbors, and those with medical conditions, and is encouraging those without air conditioning to seek relief in a place that does, such as a library or community center.
“We realize that some people do have to work outside, and we would just ask them to do their best to stay hydrated, but also to take rests from the sun,” Mehigan said. “You need to pay attention to yourself, but also those around you. If someone is feeling dizzy or nauseous, that’s a sign to get them out of the sun and take a break.”
The heat means heat-induced speed restrictions on commuter trains, and riders on the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line should expect at least 10-minute delays, CSX Corp. announced.
Some relief is expected Saturday and Sunday, when highs are expected in the low 80s. The air will still be sticky, but will not be nearly as bad as the week, the weather service reported.
Early next week may bring showers, and temperatures are expected to be in the 70s.
At Grove Hall in Roxbury on Wednesday, Eric Perez, 14, and his cousin, Ernesto Perez, 12, said they had a simple strategy to beat the heat: stay inside and play video games next to a fan.
“I stay up till like 3 o’clock in the morning playing video games,” Eric Perez said. “I don’t need to worry about ‘I got this essay due tomorrow’ or ‘I’ve got to read this chapter.’”
At the Neponset Park in Dorchester, Lisa Locken and Rose O’Neil of Quincy watched their children dash through the fountains there. Seeing them, both said, brought back feelings of their own childhood “of freedom and beach and ice cream,” Locken said.
But summers are long, and for parents that freedom has a way of becoming a strain over time.
“Ask me again in August,” Locken said. “I won’t be able to wait for them to go back to school.”