Intense storms bombarded the tri-state area with gusty winds, heavy downpours and lightning, toppling trees and flooding streets in Manhattan.
Dark clouds converged over midtown in the afternoon amid intermittent rain and roaring thunder following a muggy, cloudy morning. A woman captured a photo of a giant tree that toppled over on a sidewalk near Second Avenue and East 29th Street as she was walking by; others captured images of cars trying to navigate their way down flooded streets in Turtle Bay.
In Bayonne, New Jersey, Route 440 flooded near the Turnpike, and out in Glen Cove, Long Island, pounding rain clogged storm drains. Long Island Rail Road customers were caught in hour-long delays after tracks got flooded on the Ronkonkoma line.
In Bayside, Queens, Con Edison crews worked for hours to get power back on a block after a powerful gust of wind upended a tree and brought down power lines and a utility pole with it.
"The sky was black, the rain started coming down and then there was a huge gust of wind, like, immediately," said neighbor Linda Mariacher. "The barbecue on his driveway started lifting up, and the pole started going down."
St. Mary's Hospital a block away also lost power, but the backup generator kicked in immediately.
Earlier in the morning Thursday, a manhole fire at Wadsworth Avenue and 190th Street knocked out power to about 700 people in Washington Heights, exacerbating discomfort for residents there. A nearby cooling center provided some relief for neighbors.
Highs capped out in the low to mid-80s in the five boroughs Thursday, which falls short of the three consecutive 90-plus degree days needed for an official heat wave. But conditions felt more like 95 to 100 degrees because of the smothering humidity, Storm Team 4 says. In Newark, New Jersey, temperatures hit 90 degrees shortly before 3 p.m., making for an official heat wave in that city.
A cooler front is expected to pass overnight, bringing lower humidity and much drier air. Even if temperatures climb above 90 degrees Friday, there won't be any of the oppressive humidity felt on Thursday, Storm Team 4 says.
There will be plenty of sunshine Friday and through the weekend, with low humidity, making for a picture-perfect few days. There's no rain in the forecast until Tuesday.
The stifling, wet weather follows a sweltering Wednesday for the tri-state as the heat climbed above the 90-degree mark for the second day in a row, according to Storm Team 4.
Highs reached 96 degrees in midtown, making it the hottest day of the year for those in Manhattan. Oppressive humidity made it feel much, much hotter to the south and west of the city, with the heat index approaching 100 degrees.
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory through 8 p.m. Thursday, and Mayor de Blasio urged New Yorkers to use air conditioning when they can, drink water at regular intervals and limit strenuous activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Cooling centers were also open all across New York City and free outdoor pools will be open an hour later.
De Blasio added, however, that everyone needs to do their part to conserve energy, and said he was setting thermostats to 78 degrees in City Hall and other city buildings.
Outages early Wednesday in Park Slope on Union Street near Fifth Avenue and in Crown Heights between Kingston and Troy Avenues and Eastern Parkway and Carroll Street were most likely heat-related, Con Edison said.
"It was awful," said Henry Burns, who was among the roughly 800 Crown Heights resident who were without power overnight. "I think I was sweating the whole night."
Nearby, Precious Gems Daycare owner Melvin Simmons had to turn kids away because of the outage.
"My lights aren't on, my gas is not on, the A/C is not on. It's very hot. We can't have the kids outside in this heat," said Simmons.
The outages weren't nearly as widespread as the ones last week that knocked out power to thousands of Staten Island customers. Con Edison spokesman Mike Clenendin attributed that to "problems that we corrected," saying earlier in the week, "We should be OK heading into this heat wave."
Engineers were keeping a close eye on the power grid as Clenendin urged customers to manage energy as best they can.
"We're not looking to break a record," he said.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Con Ed recorded a power usage of 12,059 megawatts among its customers in New York City and Westchester. The all-time record happened on July 19, 2013, when Con Ed customers were using 13,200 megawatts at 5 p.m. Each megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.
-- Andrew Siff and Sheldon Dutes contributed to this report