When Will the Heat End?
Temperatures in the Northeast soared into the upper 90s Thursday for a second day as residents fled to pools and beaches, tourists reorganized their sightseeing itineraries and street vendors and store owners made a small fortune selling bottled water and other cold drinks.
New York's Central Park was forecast to reach a record 98 degrees. Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will see similar heat with temperatures inching into the upper 90s and low 100s. The official first day of summer Wednesday set records from New York City to Burlington, Vt.
In the nation's capital on Thursday, a bit of resourcefulness has helped at least some tourists hit all the hotspots despite the scorching heat.
Nolan Shoffner, 36, who was vacationing with his parents and 10-year-old son, Parker, said the family had rearranged some of their plans to visit outdoor sites like the White House and Capitol in the morning, while saving cool, indoor museums for the afternoon.
"There's not a lot of places you can hide," Shoffner said as he stood outside the U.S. Capitol.
Also feeling the heat was Bashir Saleh, a Times Square food vendor.
"I'm exhausted," said Saleh, a native of Afghanistan who'd been working already eight hours as the heat rose near his propane-gas fueled coffee maker.
But the heat is worth it, he said, noting he makes more money selling iced coffee and other drinks on hot days. Sporting a visor with an American flag, Saleh, who'd fled war in his native land, said that even when he's sweating to earn a living, "I think, God bless America. For a few days, I can sacrifice."
Unlike Saleh, The Lil Pop Shop, an artisan popsicle store in Philadelphia, was nearly empty at midday despite a healthy supply of frozen treats..
Owner Jeanne Chang said she expects the crowd to come after the sun goes down, as a swarm of customers did on Wednesday night after a similarly brutal day.
In Boston, even as temperatures soared into the 90s, many took the heat in stride.
At the city's Franklin Park Zoo, gorillas sucked on ice treats and ostriches waded through spray mists in an effort to keep cool. Spokeswoman Brooke Wardrop said the 100-year-old zoo routinely takes weather precautions with its animals.
Outside the city many flocked to area beaches to enjoy the rare stretch of heat.
Dave Remillard, 50, went to Wollaston Beach in Quincy, just south of Boston but chose sunbathing over swimming, he said, because the water was too cold.
"I hope we have a hot summer. We haven't had one in a while," he said, sipping a large cup of iced coffee.
In New Jersey, forecasters say temperatures could combine with humidity to make it feel like 110 degrees in parts of the state. Thermometers might not drop below 80 until the wee hours of Friday morning.
"American Idol" hopefuls in Newark got a bit of a break from the heat Thursday morning when they were ushered inside the Prudential Center to register to audition.
In preparation for the sweltering weather, golf course officials at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut had IVs ready to go at a medical tent where dozens were treated for heat exhaustion Wednesday.
Emergency medical services director John Quinlavin said people need to drink more water at the stations set up around the course. Forecasts for the area call for temperatures just short of 100 degrees.
"People are coming in dizzy, a little nausea, vomiting, generally poor feeling overall," he said. "We generally have a more mature audience here, and we do see a lot of the elderly having some problems with the heat."
Across the northeast, public health officials warned residents to not leave pets or children in vehicles as temperatures can quickly escalate and lead to heat stroke and death. Two dogs left in a hot pickup truck in western Massachusetts died as a result of the heat Wednesday afternoon.
Erika Mueller, a co-owner of South Deerfield Emergency Veterinary Hospital, said the well-meaning dog owner left the animals in the truck with a window open and a supply of water, but the temperatures can surpass 100 in a vehicle.
On Wednesday, at least 66 weather stations across the nation broke or tied high temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But, NOAA forecaster Dave Unger said the east coast will soon get a relief from the extreme heat as a low pressure system and possible coastal storms are expected to lower temperatures heading into the weekend.
He said extreme temperatures are likely this summer, with the administration's forecast through September calling for hotter than normal temperatures for every state, except for New England.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)