Friday, July 22, 2011

New York Weather

By the time the clock struck 10 a.m. Friday morning, the temperature in Central Park had already hit 93 degrees.
At 12:45, the temperature was 102 degrees, breaking the record of 101 degrees for July 22 in New York, set in 1957. And in Newark, the noon temperature reached 104, soaring past the previous record of 101, which was also set in 1957.
According to the National Weather Service, it felt like 116 degrees in New York.
To those out in the streets, it felt more like being licked by a big, swampy monster.
“It’s a steam bath,” said Joseph Goldstein, 67, as he sat on a Manhattan street in the morning across from his broken-down cab. “In all my years in New York, I’ve never seen it get this hot this early.”
Making matters worse, a fire had shut down one of the city’s largest sewage treatment plants, rendering some waters around New York unfit for recreational use, including swimming.
The record-breaking heat wave that began in the central United States earlier in the week had pushed east by Thursday, sending the temperature to 97 in New York City.
“One could say, ‘Oh, it’s summer, its late July, it’s hot,’ ” said Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service. “But this is different.”
According to Mr. Vaccaro, this heat wave is exceptional not only for its strength, but also for its breadth and duration. More than 1,400 record-high temperatures have been broken or tied around the country in July alone, Mr. Vaccaro said, and that number was expected to rise on Friday as 132 million people across the country were living under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory.
In New York City, as the mercury crept higher, Consolidated Edison’s consumers were on pace to set an all-time mark for power consumption. That record, 13,141 megawatts, was set in the late afternoon of Aug. 2, 2006, and was never broken throughout the sweltering summer of 2010. But on Friday morning, the load was running about 200 megawatts above the hourly totals from that 2006 date.
At 10 a.m. on Friday, for example, Con Ed’s customers were using 12,336 megawatts, compared with 12,003 at 10 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2006. John Miksad, Con Ed’s senior vice president for electric operations, said he expected a new record for demand would be set by the end of the week and that the company should have the capacity to handle that without any significant failures in its distribution system.
At 11 a.m., the biggest problem Con Ed faced was in one neighborhood in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, where about 500 customers had lost power, said Bob McGee, a spokesman for the utility.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, on his weekly radio appearance, said New Yorkers should turn up their thermostats to 79 degrees to conserve power and while that might be too warm for some, “not having electricity would be a lot more uncomfortable.”
City officials announced that cooling centers would be open daily through the heat wave. The Department of Environmental Protection also turned fire hydrants around the city into drinking-water fountains. And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered the Parks Department to offer extended hours at swimming facilities at state parks.
Meanwhile, hundreds of city employees and contractors, some from out of state, were working Friday to repair the badly damaged sewage treatment plant in Harlem that has discharged millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. The broiling heat had set across most of the Eastern Seaboard, from Georgia all the way up to Maine. The temperature in Washington, D.C. — which was 91 degrees at 10 p.m. Thursday night, with a heat index of 111— was forecast to hit 103. Even Portland, Me., which usually enjoys a pleasant 79 degrees in July was expected to hit 100 on Friday.
“It’s just going to be miserable,” said Mr. Vaccaro of the National Weather Service. “And, frankly, really unhealthy.”