Metro

Summer’s last stand? Record-breaking heat smothers region

Louie, a French  bulldog, panted while out for a walk in South Boston amid record-breaking heat.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Louie, a French bulldog, panted while out for a walk in South Boston amid record-breaking heat.

Boston’s sweltering Tuesday has broken the temperature record for this day, as temperatures hit 96 degrees just after 2 p.m.

The reading also makes Tuesday the hottest day of the year so far. High temperatures for this time of year are usually around 75 degrees, and the previous record for Sept. 8 was 95 degrees in 2007.

The heat is expected to continue into Wednesday. The best place for releif will be the Cape and Islands, though highs will still be in the mid-80s.

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“Tonight is going to be an air conditioner type of night,” said Alan Dunham, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “Generally clear skies, but muggy, with lows only in the lower 70s.”

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Rhode Island and much of Connecticut are also under an air quality alert until 11 p.m. Tuesday because of potentially unhealthy levels of ozone.

On Wednesday, Boston will again approach a daily record high: 91 degrees set in 1971. Temperatures will be in the lower 90s across the region, Dunham said.

A cool down will begin Thursday, as temperatures drop to the low 80s. Showers and thunderstorms will probably move across the state Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, Dunham said.

“We could really use the rain, because so far as of midnight [Tuesday], we were 6.55 inches down for the year,” Dunham said.

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Friday will be significantly cooler, with highs in the low to mid-70s. The weekend could bring scattered showers, but temperatures will stay in the 70s, forecasters said.

Sarah Roberts can be reached at sarah.roberts@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @heysarahroberts