- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NEW YORK | The East Coast broiled under an unforgiving sun Tuesday as the temperature soared above 100 degrees in several cities, utility companies cranked out power to cool the sweating masses and the unlucky sought any oasis they could find.

The temperature reached 100 by the afternoon in Philadelphia, which hadn’t seen weather that hot in nine years. The reading toppled a record of 98 for the day set in 1999 and matched midafternoon readings Tuesday in New York City, Newark, N.J., and Washington.

After an extended Fourth of July weekend when temperatures inched into at least the 90s from Maine to Texas, The National Weather Service issued heat advisories until Wednesday night for much of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region, including an excessive heat warning for the Philadelphia area.

With people cranking up their air conditioning, energy officials predicted near-record demand for power.

“It will be a challenge,” said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, although utilities and regional electrical system operators cited ample generation capacity and expected no major blackouts. Just a smattering of power failures were reported.

Even so, those without air conditioning were left to cope as they could. On the baking streets of the Bronx, Miguel Pena, 14, and Vincent Quiles, 13, walked their bicycles up a steep hill, white handkerchiefs around their heads to keep the sweat out of their eyes.

“Man, this stinks,” Miguel said. “We just got out of school and this is supposed to be when we have fun, but this is too much. We thought it would be cooler on the bike, but now we’re going home. It’s just too hot.”

Added Vincent: “You can’t breathe out here.”

Authorities in some places Tuesday began calling the hot stretch a heat wave, a phenomenon defined by at least 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.

It was so hot that even machines had to slow down. Transportation officials cut the speed of commuter trains in suburban Washington when the tracks got too hot because extreme heat can cause welded rails to bend under pressure.

Workers at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J., used tubs of ice cubes to help four sick or weak seals keep cool.

It wasn’t much easier on animal lovers. In Massachusetts, Katie Wright was determined to follow through on her promise to take her children to a zoo.

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” Mrs. Wright said as her 3-year-old son, Jackson, and 2-year-old daughter, Emery, watched owls and hawks at the Massachusetts Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln. “But we wanted to get out, so we brought hats, sunscreen, extra water and then promised the kids lunch at an air-conditioned restaurant.”

At his Manhattan newsstand, a steel kiosk that soaks up sun like a sponge, vendor Sam Doctor said the only way to keep cool was to splash his head with water, but he acknowledged that his system wouldn’t last. Both of his soda-cooling refrigerators had already conked out by midmorning.

“When it’s 100 degrees out there, it’s 110 in here,” he said, still smiling as he served customers.

In Philadelphia, where the temperature was in the 80s before 7 a.m., Davey Adams, 45, waited in a subway station that was stagnant even before the morning commute began in earnest. He had spent the weekend in air-conditioned bliss at his son’s house in New Jersey but had to return to his job Tuesday as a forklift driver in a warehouse.

He said he planned to use “cold water and a washcloth” draped over his head to keep cool.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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