Heat wave gripping eastern, central U.S. to intensify over weekend
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[July 20, 2019]
By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A massive heat wave
that has enveloped the U.S. Midwest pushed into the Northeast on Friday,
ushering in temperatures that could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38
degrees C) in Washington and prompting utilities to take steps to
prevent power outages.
The huge blob of warm air is likely to blanket the region, home to a
third of the U.S. population, through Sunday with little overnight
relief, said meteorologist David Roth of the National Weather Service's
Weather Prediction Center.
"There are 124 million people under a heat advisory or excessive heat
warning - that's a third of the population," Roth said.
As of Friday, the heat wave sprawled from Kansas to the Atlantic Coast,
and from South Carolina north to Maine. It was expected to intensify on
Saturday and Sunday.
Utilities in the eastern half of the United States expect to have enough
resources to meet power demand on Friday but asked consumers to turn
down air conditioners to avoid putting stress on the system, which could
"I'm very confident," Consolidated Edison Inc <ED.N> President Tim
Cawley said when asked at a news conference if the utility, which serves
New York City, could quickly respond to any outages in the country's
most populous city. He said 4,000 employees were poised to work 12-hour
shifts over the weekend.
On Saturday, parts of Manhattan lost power for hours, darkening Broadway
theaters, halting subways and closing restaurants and shops in a partial
blackout blamed on a faulty piece of equipment.
Early on Friday, as the heat intensified in downtown Madison, Wisconsin,
11,600 homes and businesses lost power after fires erupted at two
substations near the state capitol. With temperatures forecast to hit
93F (34C) later in the day, Governor Tony Evers asked nonessential state
workers to stay home. By midafternoon, power had been restored to all
but about 3,500 customers, according to Madison Gas and Electric.
On the East Coast, temperatures on Friday were forecast to reach near
100F (38C) in Washington, 97F (36C) in Philadelphia and 91F (33C) in New
York, where it would feel more like 110F (43C) with high humidity, Roth
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A girl cools off from the heat in water from an open fire hydrant in
the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan in New York City,
New York, U.S., July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
On Saturday, the forecast called for 99F (37C) in New York and
Philadelphia and 100F (38C) in Washington. Much the same was in the
forecast for Sunday.
"It's crazy," said Fonik Bitaly, 28, who was entering his sixth hour
of work dressed as a costumed character, Batman, in New York City's
Times Square. "It's really, really hard to be outside right now. You
need to drink lots of water or you'll be in serious trouble."
The dangers posed by extreme heat and humidity prompted officials to
scrap outdoor competitions, including Saturday's horse races at
Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and Sunday's New York City
"As soon as you get outside, it's like 'Boom!' said Loig Loury, 32,
who moved to New York from Paris last year. "The heat attacks you."
To keep cool during past heat waves, suburban children typically ran
under lawn sprinklers and city kids frolicked in the spray of fire
hydrants, but the New York City Fire Department warned that special
spray caps that firehouses hand out should be used to avoid creating
"If you open a fire hydrant without these caps, you endanger your
neighbors because the water pressure drops and our firefighters are
not able to fight fires," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro wrote on
(Additional reporting by Matt Lavietes, Scott DiSavino, Peter
Szekely and Henry Nichols in New York; editing by Bill Trott,
Marguerita Choy and Tom Brown)
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