'Brutal' Heat Wave Grips New York Region, Heat Indexes Hit 100+

July 19, 2019 - 3:55 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A heat wave brought scorching highs and blistering heat indexes to the Tri-State on Saturday, dangerous weather that was forecast to continue into Sunday amid widespread weather advisories.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a heat emergency Friday and said Sunday's New York City triathlon was cancelled, joining other events that had been called off across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The region is under a stagnant heat dome, a phenomenon where the atmosphere is pushing down, trapping humidity and not allowing moisture to escape into the air and become cooling thunderstorms. 

An excessive heat warning went into effect at noon Friday and continues through 8 p.m. Sunday as heat indexes stretch into triple digits.

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The weekend heat could be the most intense that New York City has endured in years, according to the mayor, who is telling New Yorkers to raise thermostats on air conditioning units to 78 degrees through Sunday evening to conserve energy. The order also applies to office buildings.

“We are about to enter a heat emergency, and must do all we can to keep New Yorkers safe,” said de Blasio. “The city government is limiting its energy use to reduce strain on the electrical grid, and now private office buildings will also have to do their part.”

De Blasio, who was criticized for being out of town campaigning in Iowa during last weekend's power outage, will remain in the city this weekend to be on hand for the heat wave. 

Con Ed says it can handle the heat wave, but the stakes are high as seeds of doubt have been cast following Saturday's blackout and other outages that affected neighborhoods in Staten Island and the Bronx this week.

The utility told WCBS 880 this week that they have spent $1.5 billion on grid upgrades and they're bringing in an additional 4,000 workers this weekend to handle the heat.

On Sunday, some 1,225 Con Ed customers were without power in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, with more than 1,500 other PSEG and JCP&L customers in the dark in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, Westchester and Long Island.

Over 500 cooling centers are open through Sunday, the city's public pool and beach hours has been extended and portable drink fountains have been set up in busy pedestrian areas across the city. New Yorkers can find nearby cooling stations and hours of operation by going to nyc.gov/oem. Yankee Stadium also has hydrating stations and water fountains for all its games.

New York state parks are also keeping their pools open longer and in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont is urging residents to prepare for the hot weather. 

The FDNY is calling on volunteer ambulances to help with heat-related 911 calls this weekend and the Department of Social Services has issued a Code Red, meaning teams will fan ouot to help the homeless who don't live in shelters.

The Legal Aid Society has demanded that the city Department of Correction move inmates into air conditioned units amid a sweltering heat wave.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is stressing all residents should look for ways to beat the extreme heat.

“People without air conditioning, older adults and people with chronic health conditions are the most at risk – so we want everyone to stay hydrated, to avoid strenuous activity, go to a cooling center, go to the beach, go to a pool,” Johnson said.

By Saturday, the heat index is forecast to reach nearly 110 degrees, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

Johnson says all New Yorkers should be cautious and take advantage of extended beach and pool hours. He also advises residents to watch out for their neighbors and to play close attention to animals.

“We want to make sure that pets stay hydrated and we also want to make sure that you are not leaving your pets in the sun, you’re not ever leaving them in the car, where they can get really, really sick or die,” Johnson said.

Westchester pools and beaches are among other locations with extended hours Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday will remain hot and humid in the mid-90s. By Monday, it may hit 90 for the fourth day in a row.

Amid the potential heat wave, the city is advising residents to “be a buddy” all weekend long.

“Hot weather is dangerous and can kill. People with chronic physical and mental health conditions should use air conditioning if they have it, and get to a cool, air conditioned place if they don’t,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “During times like these, we all need to look out for each other.”

The dangerous heat forced the cancellation of major events this weekend, including the New York City Triathlon and OZY Fest — a festival that highlights art, live music, cooking demos, and conversations. John Legend was among those scheduled to perform at the festival, which was slotted to take place Saturday and Sunday in Central Park.

To stay safe in the heat, the mayor’s office is advising the following:

  • Go to an air-conditioned location, even if for a few hours.
  • Stay out of the sun and avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Drink water
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing when inside without air conditioning or outside.
  • Protect your pets and service animals when extreme heat strikes:
  • Never leave pets in the car. Temperatures rise quickly even with the windows down and can be deadly for your pet. Call 911 if you see a pet or child in a hot car.
  • Be sure your pets have access to plenty of water, especially when it is hot.
  • Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, shopping at a mall, or swimming at a pool or beach.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and, in apartments where children live, window guards.
  • Never leave your children or pets in the vehicle, even for a few minutes.
  • Check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, young children, and people with disabilities.