PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The eastern U.S. cooked for another day
Wednesday as unrelenting heat promised to push thermometers past
100 degrees in urban "heat islands," buckled roads, slowed trains
and pushed utilities toward the limit of the electrical grid's
Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and Baltimore, where the high on
Tuesday was 105, were already at 97 degrees by late morning and
were expected to hit 100 degrees later in the day. Triple digit
forecast extended as far south as Charlotte, N.C. Cities farther
north, including New York, were predicted to get into the high 90s,
though higher humidity was expected to make it feel hotter.
Sue Robels, 22, was getting out of the heat at Philadelphia's
Franklin Institute science museum for an exhibit on Cleopatra.
"My apartment isn't air conditioned, so it's going to be
museums, movies, Starbucks, anywhere else but at home today," she
Scattered power outages affected customers up and down the coast
and usage approached record levels. In the Washington, D.C., area,
nearly 1,000 customers were without power Wednesday, while New
Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, reported
about 6,500 customers without power. Consolidated Edison in New
York said it was working to restore power to about 6,300 customers,
down from outages to 18,700 customers Tuesday.
Tatiana Solis, 17, was getting ready to deliver newspapers
Wednesday in New York City, where forecasters predicted a high of
up to 99 degrees.
"I have asthma and when it's hot, it's too exhausting," she
said. "I can't breathe."
In Reading, Pa., Lisy Colon brought three of her grandchildren
to a Salvation Army cooling station. Colon has diabetes and said
she worried she would succumb to the heat inside her daughter's
apartment, leaving the children - an 11-year-old and 2-year-old
twins - by themselves.
"I was so scared. I said, 'We're not staying here today,"'
Colon said as her grandchildren played basketball inside. "For me,
it was too hot."
The heat also forced nursing homes with power problems to
evacuate and buckled highways near Albany and in the Philadelphia
area. On New York's Long Island, a radio station was distributing
free bottled water to day laborers, while human services workers in
Pittsburgh were doing the same for the homeless there.
The hot weather is especially dangerous for the elderly, but
even the young and fit were having trouble.
The U.S. Naval Academy said four midshipmen who had just
completed an obstacle course needed medical attention for possible
heat exhaustion after they completed an endurance course that
included climbing cargo netting and jumping over logs. In
Middletown, Conn., police charged two high school assistant
football coaches with reckless endangerment after a player
collapsed while running an uphill sprint Tuesday evening.
Tuesday's hot weather broke records for the day in New York,
where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102.
Those 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.
But it was also hot at the beach.
Sharon Delano, of Lancaster County, Va., spent Wednesday morning
in the Carolina Beach, N.C., arcade to escape the heat. Sitting at
a picnic table near a massive fan, she watched her kids play video
games with her mother, Carol Davis.
Davis appreciated the sea breeze and said frequent dips in the
ocean helped keep her cool, but the family needed a break from the
"With that breeze blowing, you don't know how bad you're
getting burned," said Davis, 63.
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 New Jersey trains were canceled and rail-riders were advised
to expect delays.
In Park Ridge, N.J., police evacuated a nursing home and
rehabilitation center after an electrical line burned out Tuesday
evening. In Maryland, health officials moved all 150 residents out
of a Baltimore nursing home whose operators didn't report a broken
air conditioner. The state learned of the home's troubles when a
resident called 911 Tuesday.
Residents of two Rhode Island beach towns, Narragansett and
South Kingstown, were hit with an added layer of inconvenience:
They were banned from using water outdoors and were asked to boil
and cool their water before using it. The high temperatures
combined with the busy holiday weekend for tourists created
higher-than-expected demand, causing water pressure to drop and
increasing the chance of contamination.
In Boston, the sweltering temperatures pushed a window-washing
company to adjust its hours.
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 a 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
Karin Korpowski-Gallo, a spokeswoman for the National Zoo in
Washington, said most of its animals have access to air
"The pandas aren't big fans of this kind of heat," she said of
the zoo's most famous animals. "They choose to stay indoors and
they sleep a lot."
Deaths blamed on the heat included a 92-year-old Philadelphia
woman whose body was found Monday and a homeless woman found lying
next to a car Sunday in suburban Detroit.
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 2006 heat wave.
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.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)