NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Crowds flocked to waterfronts and swimming pools on the U.S. East Coast and in the Midwest yesterday to try to cope with a massive heat wave that has killed at least 22 people this week.
The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings for wide areas of the central and eastern United States, saying the combined heat and humidity could push the “real feel” temperature to 115 Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) through Saturday.
By yesterday afternoon in New York City, the thermometer hit 91F (33C) but it felt more like 112F (44C), according to AccuWeather.com.
With the promise of refreshing ocean breezes, Boston’s whale-watching ships and high-speed tourist boats sold out their trips by mid-morning.
Cooling centers in Richmond, Virginia, and New York City welcomed overheated residents and a truck labeled “Water Fountain on the Go” cruised Manhattan streets, offering to refill water bottles to keep residents hydrated.
Electricity utility Con Edison said scattered outages were likely in New York in coming days with demand expected to hit all-time highs.
Unhealthy smog levels triggered by the heat were reported in Chicago, where residents were asked by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to reduce polluting activities such as idling vehicles and mowing lawns.
By the weekend, the heat wave is expected to cover half of the United States and affect nearly half of its 310 million people, AccuWeather.com forecaster Mary Yoon said.
“What makes this heat wave so impressive is the pure size and longevity,” said Yoon.
Longstanding records in Philadelphia and other cities may melt away by Friday, when temperatures are expected to spike. The low pressure system that barreled east was expected to bring powerful thunderstorms with hail to northeastern states.