PHILDELPHIA (AP) - Heat and humidity draped the Northeast for
yet another day Wednesday, pushing power companies to crank up
power to cool the sticky masses and keeping the mercury hovering
around 100 from Virginia to New Hampshire.
The crux of the heat was situated over the Philadelphia area,
where an excessive heat warning was put into effect until 8 p.m.
The National Weather Service said high humidity levels could make
it feel as hot as Tuesday.
It was already 71 degrees, hazy and humid before 7 a.m. at a
golf course in suburban Albany, N.Y., where gardener Sarah Breglia
was bracing for another sweltering work day. She said her strategy
for getting through the day was to drink lots of fluids and place
bottled water at several locations around the Guilderland golf
"I try to stay in the shade in the afternoon," she said. "We
do all the areas in the sun, all the sweeping, cleaning up, as
early as possible. In the afternoon, we try to keep it cool."
Scattered power outages have affected customers up and down the
coast and usage approaches record levels. In the Washington, D.C.,
area, nearly 2,000 customers were without power Wednesday, while
New Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas,
reported about 6,500 customers without electricity.
Tatiana Solis, 17, was getting ready to deliver newspapers
Wednesday in New York City, where forecasters predicted a high of
up to 99 degrees.
The hot weather has made her work difficult.
"I have asthma and when it's hot, it's too exhausting," she
said. "I can't breathe."
It was so hot Tuesday that even machines had to slow down.
Transportation officials cut the speed of commuter trains in
suburban Washington, D.C., and New York when the tracks got too
hot. Extreme heat can cause welded rails to bend under pressure.
Some train service to New Jersey was canceled.
Rail riders in New Jersey were advised to expect delays again
In Boston, the sweltering temperatures pushed a window washing
company to adjust its hours to prevent employees from working
during the hottest part of the day.
Victor Cruz, 24, usually starts his day with Cliffhangers Inc.
at 6:45 a.m. But on Wednesday, he was washing ground floor doors
and windows at Boston's Intercontinental Hotel starting at 4 a.m.,
so his day would end at noon, instead of 3:30 p.m.
"It's just exhausting," Cruz said, pining for the days he used
to work in an air-conditioned bank. "I actually took Tuesday off
because it was just too hot. When it's like this we'll sit in the
van every so often with the air conditioner on for a few minutes
just to cool down."
Tuesday's hot weather broke records for the day in New York,
where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102.
The record-breaking cities and other dense, built-up areas are
getting hit with the heat in a way their counterparts in suburbs
and rural areas aren't. Cities absorb more solar energy during the
day and are slower to release it at night.
Scientists have known for years about these so-called heat
islands, urban areas that are hotter than the less-developed areas
around them. They say cities, with their numerous building surfaces
and paved roads and lack of vegetation, just aren't well designed
to release summertime heat.
With people cranking up the air conditioning Tuesday, energy
officials said there was tremendous demand for electricity but the
grid didn't buckle. Usage appeared to be falling just short of
records set throughout the Northeast during a major heat wave in
Meteorologists in some places began calling the current hot
stretch a heat wave, defined in the Northeast as three consecutive
days of temperatures of 90 or above. New Jersey's largest city,
Newark, handily beat that threshold, hitting 100 for the third day
in a row. Temperatures throughout the Mid-Atlantic region were
expected to be in the high 90s to 100 again Wednesday.