Blazing heat and stifling humidity continued to build across the tri-state area Tuesday, and as Consolidated Edison customers cranked up their air conditioning, they set a new record for electricity usage so far this year.
Highs hit the 90s in Central Park Monday, marking the fourth heat wave of the season, and meteorologists expect more of the same for the next two days. The National Weather Service is extending a heat advisory through Wednesday evening.
Tuesday reached a high of 96 degrees in Central Park, though the humidity made it feel more like 100. Wednesday is expected to be even steamier, with heat indexes reaching up to 104 degrees by the afternoon. The heat advisory for the area expires at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Heat advisories are issued when exceedingly high temperatures and humidity combine to create a higher risk of heat-related illnesses like exhaustion and stroke. The worst time to be outside is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cooling thunderstorms are expected to push through the region late Wednesday afternoon and evening. Some of the storms are expected to be severe, with powerful, damaging winds, intense lightning, blinding downpours and hail. But before that system moves in, expect blistering temperatures in upper-90s with high humidity.
Meanwhile, Con Edison reported a new electric peak for 2012 of 12,455 megawatts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, surpassing the previous peak of 12,429 -- set just an hour before, at 5 p.m.
The all-time electric peak for Con Edison's service area was 12,189 megawatts, set on July 22, 2011 at 4 p.m.
Summer is always hot, but this summer has been hotter than usual.
An average season has 15 days of 90-degree or higher temperatures in Central Park, according to the National Weather Service. So far this summer, Newark has already had 18 days at 90 or higher, LaGuardia has had 17 such days, Central Park has had 12, JFK Airport nine days, Islip eight and Bridgeport has had seven days of those temperatures. And as forecasters point out, there's a lot of summer left.
The all-time record at Central Park was 39 days at 90 degrees or higher, set in 1991 and again in 1993.
Residents who seek relief at the beach are advised to take proper precautions. Water temperatures have risen into the mid- to upper-70s, but rip currents can pose life-threatening dangers for swimmers who aren't alert.
Temperatures are expected to cool down a bit by Thursday, with highs in the mid- to high 80s heading into the weekend. Saturday and Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny and comfortable with temperatures in the mid-80s and low humidity.
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