The East Coast broiled under an unforgiving sun Tuesday as record-toppling temperatures soared to 100 or higher in several cities, utility companies cranked out power to cool the sweating masses and the unlucky sought any oasis they could find.
The temperature hit 103 degrees in New York City and 102 in Philadelphia, breaking records for the day, both set in 1999. The temperature also soared past 100 in Boston, Washington and Newark, N.J., and broke records in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn.
After an extended Fourth of July weekend when temperatures inched into at least the 90s from Maine to Texas, the National Weather Service issued heat advisories until Wednesday night for much of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
With people cranking up their air conditioning, energy officials predicted near-record demand for power.
Despite temperatures hovering near 90 degrees in Maine on Tuesday afternoon with expectations of several more scorching days to follow, residents seemed to be dealing well with the heat.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the region’s electrical power supply remained intact with no heat-related outages reported by Central Maine Power Co. or Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.
ISO New England, the company that supplies bulk electricity to much of the Northeast, had not seen any problems despite nearing a record high for megawatt output that was set in August 2006.
“It’s a very heavy day on the system,” Ellen Foley, a spokeswoman for ISO New England, said Tuesday. “Right now, the power grid is operating under normal conditions.”
Manna Ministries in Bangor set up a cooling station in its soup kitchen to help residents beat the summer heat. Open at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, the center on Main Street will provide fluids and access to a bathroom for anyone seeking relief. Manna is accepting donations of water and toilet paper from the community.
In addition to the general safety guidelines of staying in the shade, constant hydration, and wearing loose-fitting clothing with light colors that reflect sunlight, Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Dr. Norman Dinerman recommended that anyone taking psychotropic medications should consult a physician before venturing outdoors because some prescriptions do not react well in the heat.
Dinerman, an attending physician at EMMC’s emergency room, said he had not seen an increase in the number of heat-related illnesses as of Tuesday, a pattern he hopes will continue.
“Folks appear to be behaving rather reasonably,” Dinerman said.
The National Weather Service indicated daytime temperatures in the Bangor area are expected to stay in the upper 80s through the weekend. While certainly warm, residents should not expect to see any records; the lowest of the high temperature records for the coming week was set in 1988 at a sizzling 92 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Maine will most likely not have a heat wave coming through,” said Sarah Trojniak of the National Weather Service in Portland. An official heat wave must record three consecutive days of temperatures above 90 degrees, Trojniak said.
Maine law enforcement officials also reminded people to leave their animals at home. Bangor Police Department handled eight calls related to dogs being left in vehicles on Monday, and Brewer Police Department on Tuesday charged one woman with cruelty to an animal in such an incident.
While providing water and leaving the air conditioning on may seem like adequate measures to ensure an animal’s well-being, Bangor police stressed that officers will take any necessary action to help a distressed pet.
In Brewer, police received a call around 10 a.m. Tuesday for a mixed-breed dog that was left in a vehicle in front of a department store. Officer Steve Boyd found upon arrival that the good Samaritan who had placed the emergency call had opened the vehicle’s unlocked doors and rolled down the windows to give the dog a bit of fresh air.
Brewer Cpl. Paul Gauvin said that Beverly Mack, 58, of Hermon had been charged with cruelty to an animal in connection with the incident, a crime that carries up to a $2,500 civil fine for a first offense. Gauvin said that Officer Boyd had called Bangor International Airport to confirm the current temperature, which was 92 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s not the time to be leaving a dog in a vehicle,” Gauvin said.
It was so hot in parts of the country that even machines had to slow down. Transportation officials cut the speed of commuter trains in suburban Washington when the tracks got too hot because extreme heat can cause welded rails to bend under pressure.
Workers at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J., used tubs of ice cubes to help four sick or weak seals keep cool.
In New York, 13 firefighters were treated at a hospital after suffering dehydration and exhaustion while battling a blaze in Queens. The 42-year-old lieutenant governor of Massachusetts spent Monday night in a hospital after marching in five parades in 90-degree heat.
Deaths blamed on the heat included a 92-year-old Philadelphia woman whose body was found Monday and a homeless woman found lying next to a car Sunday in suburban Detroit.
In Washington, where the thermometer climbed to 100 degrees by mid-afternoon, President Barack Obama warned reporters about to leave the Oval Office: “Stay cool out there. Hydrate.”
Even the queen of England, a familiar visitor to exotic and steamy places, may find summertime on the East Coast a grueling experience. The 84-year-old monarch landed in New York during the hottest part of the day on her first visit to the city in more than three decades; she planned to address the United Nations and pay tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jim Fitzgerald and David B. Caruso, Eva Dou, Verena Dobnik and Colleen Long in New York; Jeff McMillan and JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia; Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J.; Mark Pratt in Lincoln, Mass.; Lauren Sausser in Washington; and Bangor Daily News intern Rob Stigle.