Heat blankets U.S. as workers return after holiday

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NEW YORK (AP) — Temperatures soared toward 100 degrees or more Tuesday along much of the East Coast, as air conditioners strained to cool the sweating masses and the unlucky sought out cooling centers — or anywhere else they could beat the heat.

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 11 p.m. Wednesday for much of the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and parts of Michigan and Kentucky. Wednesday was forecast to be the most humid day of the stretch.

The heat was expected to put a heavy load on the power grid.

“We expect to have record energy use today. It will be a challenge,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Utilities and regional electrical system operators said there is ample generation capacity and no major blackouts were expected.

“The system is designed for what we are experiencing today,” said Con Edison senior vice president John Miksad.

Just a smattering of power outages were reported across the northeast on Monday and Tuesday.

Those without air conditioning were left to cope as they could.

In the Bronx, Gardenia Childs, 72, walked to the store early and bought herself an extra fan, but swore off any more exercise for the day as she wheeled it home in a shopping cart.

“I don’t think I’ll be coming outside again,” she said.

Nearby, construction worker Pat McHugh, 49, his face shiny with sweat, took a break to cool off with a cup of hot tea, of all things.

“It’s brutal. And I’m on the shady side of the building,” he said. Worst heat on the job in 10 years, he added.

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 keep splashing 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.

Davey Adams, 45, was headed back to his job Tuesday morning as a forklift driver at a package company warehouse in Philadelphia that has no air conditioning, just fans.

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