Northeast, Midwest sweaty, sticky, sick from heat
Cities in 18 states face heat advisories and excessive heat warnings today. The alerts come after people in many of the cities watched temperatures soar to record levels on Wednesday.
"It's just too hot to do anything," said Robert Koval, a police officer in Newark, N.J., where the temperature soared Wednesday to 101 degrees and eclipsed a record of 97 set in 1983.
The blistering temperatures and high humidity combined to push heat indexes to 100 degrees and higher Wednesday in many parts of the country, including in Wrightstown, N.J., where the index was 116 before noon.
"Hot. Muggy. Icky. Sticky," said Brandy Kallenbach, a teacher at the University of Wisconsin-Superior Child Care Center, where children were kept inside.
Heat indexes will rise to 110 in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. today, say meteorologists at The Weather Channel.
At 8 a.m. (EDT), thermometers already read 89 degrees in New York City and 85 degrees in Boston. They're expected to climb to the 100-degree mark before the day is over.
Excessive heat warning are posted today from southern New Hampshire to Washington, D.C. and into West Virginia and in Chicago. The Carolinas, Dallas, Kansas City and Detroit are under heat advisories.
Meteorologists at The Weather Channel say the cities are sizzling under a hot pocket of air that is moving eastward from the Northern Plains. Things won't change until a cold front pushes across the Midwest and Northeast in the next couple of days.
Power outages, conservation
New Jersey energy companies are asking customers not to blast their air conditioners in an effort to avoid power outages.
New Jersey's largest energy company on Wednesday experienced a second consecutive day of outages blamed on the heat.
Demand climbed to a record level of 9,966 megawatts on Wednesday, topping the record level set the day before, according to Public Service Electric and Gas Co.
Outages occurred in Newark, Weehawken, Union City and Hoboken and down the shore at Avalon, Sea Isle City, Strathmere and on Long Beach Island.
The company said it had restored electricity to all customers by this morning.
New York residents are also encouraged to cut their afternoon power consumption. While the overseer of New York state's electrical grid urged conservation, it stressed that enough power would be available to meet demand.
Hot weather turns deady
The hot weather has been blamed in the deaths of several people this week, including a man in a locked car in Oak Park, Mich., a roofer in Madison County, Ky., and a man and woman in their 70s in the Philadelphia area.
In Wisconsin, health officials believe the heat has played a role in 10 deaths in the past three weeks. Missouri has had 22 heat-related deaths so far this year.
About 10 fans of teen pop star Aaron Carter were hospitalized after being overcome by extreme heat during an outdoor concert in Wilmington, Del. Emergency workers treated an additional 55 people, and the nearly 4,500 fans were hosed down by concert workers during the show because of the heat.
NFL players feel the heat
The scorching temperatures roasted a number of NFL training camps, where coaches took more precautions following last week's heatstroke death of Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer.
One Carolina Panthers player became ill Wednesday an hour into practice at the team's training camp, and a second later began to feel dizzy.
"We all realize what football is about. It's hitting and being tough. But at some point you've got to draw the line," said Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, whose coach changed practices so players could work out in shorts instead of full pads.
High school football players in Traverse City, Mich., raced in waist-deep Lake Michigan water and sprinted on the sand, trying to keep cool during practice.
"The heat index was 108 here today," coach Matt Prisk said. "We felt the only way we could have a good practice was down on the water."
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Heat Wave Broils U.S. From Dakotas to East Coast
Reuters News Service, Aug. 8, 2001
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A brutal heat wave broiled the United States from the Great Plains to the East Coast, driving sweltering residents indoors, taxing power grids and taking a deadly toll on unsuspecting victims.
Stifling humidity combined with temperatures flirting with 100 degrees Fahrenheit to bake communities from South Dakota to the Eastern Seaboard, and contributing to dozens of deaths among the young, the old and the infirm.
A 33-year-old Kentucky roofer's death on Monday was attributed to heatstroke, a 50-year-old Detroit man was found dead inside his car with the windows rolled up, and a 27-year-old man with asthma died after being stricken while wading in a Wisconsin lake.
A Missouri man died after falling ill while mowing his lawn, and a farmer elsewhere in the state collapsed while working in his fields. The summer's death toll included several children who have died while shut inside vehicles.
Eleven Chicago firefighters battling a chemical spill from an overturned truck on a Chicago freeway on Wednesday were hospitalized suffering from the effects of the heat. Stopped motorists were told to lock their cars and head for shelter.
Temperatures topped 100 degrees for the eleventh consecutive day in tiny Philip, South Dakota, where the stubborn heat wave has slowed life's usual leisurely pace.
"A lot of people are tending to do a lot less outside, and its wilting the crops," Haaken County Sheriff Jim Pelle said from Philip, adding that forecasters have promised relief in the form of an approaching cool front.
"Everybody's going to be pulling out their winter jackets," he joked.
But the heat was no laughing matter to those whose work kept them outdoors or
shopkeepers seeing a drop in business.
"It's hot as hell," said United Parcel Service deliveryman Matt Stalker, 24, of Boonton, New Jersey, as he dropped off packages. "It's extremely hot today -- worse than yesterday. UPS guys have got it the worst."
SHORTS DON'T HELP
Did the company's uniform brown shorts help? "Not much," Stalker said.
With sweat pouring down his face onto his T-shirt, mechanic Nick Heilmann in Madison, New Jersey, explained his philosophy for dealing with the heat: "You're OK until you think about it. Once you think about it, you're in trouble."
John Martin, manager of the Parsippany, New Jersey, Shop-Rite, said the heat was hurting sales.
"Nobody wants to go out in this," Martin said. Those who did brave the heat wheeled out carts full of gallon jugs of water, soft drinks, frozen food and air conditioners, Martin said.
Cooler air from Canada was forecast to drive temperatures down sharply in the Great Plains by Thursday, but the East Coast may not get relief until the weekend, meteorologists said. Meanwhile, welcome sea breezes and a breath of northern air from Quebec cooled New England.
"It's a very stationary air mass and it just builds on itself," meteorologist David Taylor of Weather Services Corp. said.
Pollutants accumulated in the stagnant air blanketing big cities and health authorities issued warnings to the elderly and those with asthma or other breathing problems to stay indoors or head to air-conditioned cooling centers.
In steamy Washington, D.C., government officials activated the city's heat plan, which included donating fans and air conditioners to the elderly.
Electric utilities struggling to meet record electricity demand appealed to customers to curb usage. Isolated outages affecting a few thousand households and businesses at a time followed failures of overheated power cables or substations.
Demand from air conditioners strained grids from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic states, though utilities said they had enough power to avoid widespread blackouts.
But they warned that reserves were low, making the system vulnerable if a big power plant were to fall off line.
Forecast: Very hot and no relief
MSNBCAug. 7, 2001 — Relief wasn’t in the forecast Wednesday for residents of much of the United States wilting under scorching hot, humid weather. Meteorologists expect the stifling heat wave, which has sent electricity demand to record levels and caused a string of deaths, to continue at least through Friday.
Almost everywhere in the United States from the Plains to the East Coast is
broiling. The only exceptions Tuesday were a few areas still contending with
thunderstorms from the remnants of the Barry storm system. However, Barry’s
moisture is becoming more diffuse with time, and the thunderstorms will taper
off, leaving most areas to cook.
A cold front in the Northern Rockies and Canadian Plains will eventually
shove the heat away from northern tier locales but that won’t happen until later
this week or over the weekend.
On Tuesday, high temperatures blanketed the eastern half of the country,
straining power grids and plunging millions of people into a stifling, soggy
"If we worked a horse in this heat, we’d go to jail," construction worker David Stacey said in Harrisburg, Pa., his black T-shirt soaked with sweat. "But we don’t really have a choice. We’ve got to be outside."
The withering heat stretched from South Dakota’s Black Hills and Minneapolis
to Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine. Temperatures topped 100 degrees in
some places and the humidity made it feel even hotter.
"I’m going straight home and the first thing I’ll do when I get there is turn
the air conditioner on high," said Joel Reyes, a 22-year-old student clutching a
large cup of ice water as he walked in New York.
CITIES OPEN ‘COOLING CENTERS’
Boston declared its first heat alert of the summer. New York officials opened about 400 "cooling centers" — air-conditioned senior centers, schools and other public facilities — and said its 33 swimming pools would stay open an extra hour. The high in Central Park was 99 degrees.
"Take as much of your clothes off as you’re legally allowed to do," New York
City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told reporters. "I emphasize the last part of that —
legally allowed to do."
Pennsylvanians were girding for the longest stretch of 90-degree days in at
least six years. In Philadelphia, workers from a community group fanned out
Tuesday, distributing jugs of water to the homeless.
Toronto, Canada’s largest city, also baked in oven-like temperatures Tuesday and officials there declared a heat emergency. "Cooling centers" were opened, especially for the elderly and the homeless, and restrictions were placed on water use for lawns and gardens.
Last week, hot weather was blamed for a series of deaths in the Midwest,
including 27-year-old Korey Stringer of pro football’s Minnesota Vikings. Other
deaths were under investigation, including that of a man whose body temperature
was measured at 109 degrees after he was found in his car in a Detroit
One safety group said 27 children have died so far this year from heatstroke
after being left inside cars, including a 3-year-old Missouri boy left inside a
vehicle Sunday while his parents went to church.
In Missouri, 15 heat-related deaths have been reported, seven of them in the
Kansas City area alone. The dead in recent days included an 85-year-old woman
and a 77-year-old man. Both were found in their homes where neither had air
conditioning and had been using fans to try to keep cool.
"Heat-related deaths are the leading cause of weather fatalities in the
country, and everyone must take the heat warnings seriously," said Donald
Wernly, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
At the Fairfax Pool in Eau Claire, Wis., manager Tara Edberg said some of her
lifeguards had grown dizzy and vomited because of the heat. Elsewhere in the
state, high school football coaches canceled outdoor practices.
In Newark, where the heat index reached 106 degrees, six firefighters
suffered heat exhaustion after battling a house fire.
POWER GRIDS OVERLOADED
Power companies nationwide urged people to conserve, fearing blackouts or brownouts due to consumer overload.
In Minnesota, Tuesday was the second day in a row without power for many Xcel Energy customers, who have been sweating it out without ice cubes, air conditioning or electric fans.
More than 7,000 customers were still without power Tuesday afternoon, down
As many as 6,000 customers lost electricity in Camden, N.J., and authorities said it was partly due to the hot weather.
Electricity usage in New York hit an all-time high Tuesday, according to the
state’s Independent System Operator.
"There’s a little bit of extra juice floating around out there, some from our
neighbors to the north (Canada). But, boy, it’s tight," ISO spokesman Steven
Despite fears of California-like blackouts in the Northeast, the system held up. Data from the New York Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the state power grid, showed a power surplus of 9 percent during peak demand hours Tuesday.
The available supply cushion was actually a bit higher when imports from
neighboring power grids were factored into the total, but well below the 18
percent target margin the state’s utilities try to maintain.
By contrast, California — facing its worst energy crisis ever — spent much of
the past seven months skating along on a perilously thin surplus of 7 percent or
less, triggering rolling blackouts on six days this year.
NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this