Massive heat wave spreads across United States

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.

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