Published: Jul 07, 2010 1:10 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 07, 2010 10:10 AM EDT

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

course.

"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

Wednesday.

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

2006.

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.