103 Degrees!: Record-Breaking Heat in NYC and NJ

Temperatures hit 103 in Central Park, LaGuardia Airport and Newark

The tri-state area baked, leaving thousands without power, and melting local records for high temperatures.

Central Park hit a scorching 103 degrees Tuesday, breaking a record set in 1999. Newark reached 103, a new all-time high.  Record highs were also set at Newark (103 degrees), LaGuardia (103 degress) and JFK (101 degrees) airports.

Temperatures hovered in the mid-to-high 90s throughout the region.  And the heat won't break until mid-week.

The heat was expected to put a heavy load on the power grid, knocking out power for Queens residents and 4,000 customers in Staten Island. Con Edison is requesting that all NYC customers conserve electricity by keeping air conditioners at 78-degrees, and running washers, dryers and dishwashers at night. 

By 5 p.m., Con Edison had used 12,963 megawatts -- just shy of the all-time record of 13, 141 megawatts set on August 2, 2006. The usage was expected to go down as the evening went on.

Asked why demand wasn't higher on a triple-digit day, Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert said, "we don't speculate. Whether it was New Yorkers conserving more, we don't know."

Con Edison Tuesday night set up high powered generators outside the Williamsburg Houses in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The housing project is considered the biggest drain on the weak feeder cables in the area.

Longtime residents like Audrey Govine, who's lived here since 1959, didn't feel comforted. "Nobody knocked on my door to tell me what's going on," she said.

Meanwhile in several counties, including Jersey's Monmouth and Ocean, and New York's Rockland, residents are being asked to conserve water.

City cooling centers are open and its good to brush up on hot weather tips in extreme temperatures. 

At John Jay College, classes were canceled today because of an air conditioning failure. Thirteen firefighters suffered minor injuries related to the soaring temperatures; they were hit by dehydration and exhaustion while battling a Queens blaze on Tuesday morning. Heavy equipment meant to protect them from flames can work against them in the heat. 

In Union County, a New Jersey Transit train lost power about a mile from the Elizabeth station, but fortunately had enough power to coast in. But at least one person suffered a heat stroke and the firefighters set up a rehab station for passengers after people waited on the sweltering platform for more than an hour.

The hot weather is expected to last through Tuesday evening, then temperatures will likely fall about 10 degrees, but the humidity will remain. Those without air conditioning were left to cope as they could.

In the Bronx, Gardenia Childs, 72, walked to the store early and bought herself an extra fan, but swore off any more exercise for the day as she wheeled it home in a shopping cart.

"I don't think I'll be coming outside again," she said.

Nearby, construction worker Pat McHugh, 49, his face shiny with sweat, took a break to cool off with a cup of hot tea, of all things.

"It's brutal. And I'm on the shady side of the building," he said. Worst heat on the job in 10 years, he added.

At his Manhattan news stand — a steel kiosk that soaks up sun like a sponge — vendor Sam Doctor said his only way to keep cool was to keep splashing his head with water, but he acknowledged that his system wouldn't last. Both of his soda-cooling refrigerators had already conked out by midmorning.

"When it's 100 degrees out there, it's 110 in here," he said, still smiling as he served customers

This summer is already hotter than last year. In June 2009, the average temperature at Central Park was 75 degrees. This year, it was 83 degrees.

And last summer, the temperature didn't hit 90 degrees until August.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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