A massive heatwave that has enveloped the US Midwest pushed into the Northeast yesterday, ushering in temperatures that could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38°C) in Washington, D.C., and leading 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 US population, through tomorrow with little overnight relief, said meteorologist David Roth of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Centre.
“There are 124mn people under a heat advisory or excessive heat warning — that’s a third of the population,” Roth said.
As of yesterday, the heat wave sprawled from Kansas to the Atlantic Coast, and from South Carolina north to Maine. It was expected to intensify today and tomorrow.
Utilities in the eastern half of the US expect to have enough resources to meet power demand but asked consumers to turn down air conditioners to avoid putting stress on the system, which could cause outages.
“I’m very confident,” Consolidated Edison president Tim Cawley said when asked at a press conference in New York, if the utility, which serves New York City, could quickly respond to any outages in the country’s largest 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 theatres and closing restaurants and shops in a partial blackout blamed on a faulty piece of equipment.
There were no major outages yesterday morning anywhere in the US, according to the PowerOutage.US website.
Temperatures were forecast to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington, 97 degrees F in Philadelphia and 91 degrees F in New York, where it would feel more like 110 degrees F with high humidity, Roth said.
The dangers posed by extreme heat and humidity prompted officials to scrap outdoor competitions, including today’s horse races at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and tomorrow’s New York City Triathlon.
To keep cool during past heat waves, suburban children typically run under lawn sprinklers and city kids frolic in the spray of fire hydrants but the New York City Fire Department warned special spray caps that firehouses hand out should be used to avoid creating a hazard.
“If you open a fire hydrant without these caps, you endanger your neighbours because the water pressure drops and our firefighters are not able to fight fires,” FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said on social media.
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