- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Blistering heat settled over the eastern half of the nation yesterday, sending man and beast in desperate search of relief: An air-conditioned subway car in New York City. A plunge into the Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey. And cold showers for suffering livestock in Ohio.

The same heat wave that was blamed for as many as 164 deaths in California brought a fifth straight day of oppressive weather to Chicago and promised at least three days of brow-mopping temperatures in the New York metropolitan area.

Residents on Chicago’s South Side were evacuated from buildings by the hundreds, one day after the power went out for 20,000 customers. Illinois officials blamed three deaths on the heat. The blistering temperatures also scorched Conyers, Ga., where a high school football player died one day after collapsing at practice.

“I am pretty much dying,” said Grace Hartmann, a New York University student. “I’m from California, where it’s not this hot and not humid.”

By midafternoon, the temperature in Chicago was 100, and Washington hit 97, though the humidity made it feel like 107. In New York’s Central Park, it was 95; the record for the date was 100, set in 1933. The National Weather Service said that the mercury could reach 104 today, and that tomorrow could be bad, too.

“This is a very dangerous heat wave,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “It’s more than just uncomfortable. It can seriously threaten your life.”

With a 10-day power outage in Queens still fresh in memory, the city adopted energy conservation measures. Thermostats in city offices were set at 78, and large municipal installations such as the Rikers Island jail used backup generators.

The giant Pepsi-Cola sign on the Brooklyn waterfront was to be dimmed, as were the lights illuminating the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and other spans.

Ohio farmers used fans and cold showers to keep their cattle cool. Even with those efforts, the animals produced about 10 pounds less milk per day because of the heat, said farmer Clark Emmons of Fayette, Ohio.

Joe Calandro, a mechanic in New Haven, Conn., worked on an Oldsmobile with an electrical problem. Despite ceiling fans and wide-open garage doors, there was little escape from the heat.

“A hot day like this, a car that comes in that has been running all day, it’s like sticking your head in a furnace,” Mr. Calandro said.

In New Jersey, soaring temperatures were suspected in a huge fish kill at a Piscataway lake, and beachgoers were on the sand and in the water before most people had arrived at work.

Diana Tredennick of East Brunswick, N.J., slathered herself with sunscreen before 8:30 a.m.

“I’ll be in the water a lot,” she said.

Some people had no choice but to muddle through the day at work. Lee Spivey, 42, directed tourist traffic and construction trucks through Lower Manhattan.

“You just deal with it,” he said. “This is not the hottest day, but tomorrow might be.”

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