Americans Swelter Under Oppressive Heat


Tuesday, July 10th 2007, 8:00 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) _ Even industrial-size fans couldn't beat the heat in Hell's Kitchen on Tuesday.

John Alaimo, manager of a taxi repair shop in the Manhattan neighborhood, said the fans only blow hot air around, doing little to keep his mechanics cool.

``I buy these guys gallons of water just to keep them going,'' he said. ``I can't afford to put air conditioning in here.''

The city put up a valiant fight against the second day of temperatures in the 90s as heat gripped the country from coast to coast. In Medford, Ore., the temperature was forecast to hit 105. Central Park saw a high of 92, well below the 102-degree record set in 1993, but still unpleasant enough.

More than a week of high temperatures across the West has raised wildfire concerns. Conditions have gotten ``super-dry,'' said Roger Peterson, a spokesman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. ``And it's only going to get drier over the next few days.''

In the East, the heat spread as far south as Virginia, where temperatures in the 90s prompted state officials to issue a hazardous weather alert. Richmond opened three cooling shelters Monday.

The West Virginia town of Bluefield offered free lemonade Tuesday after temperatures surpassed 90 degrees the day before, following a decades-old tradition.

In Washington, D.C., forecasters predicted a high of 96 degrees, which would feel like 101 with the humidity.

New Jersey was more like a hothouse than a Garden State on Tuesday as the humidity made it feel like 100 degrees in some places. But after thunderstorms moved through in early afternoon, delaying flights across the Eastern Seaboard, the temperature was down to 85 in Trenton and 88 in Atlantic City, officials said.

A state office building in Philadelphia, where the temperature was in the low 90s, was closed because cooling systems weren't working properly. About 1,000 state employees work in the 18-story downtown building; the building was expected to reopen Wednesday.

In New York, park officials said they would keep the city's 52 outdoor public pools open at least an extra hour. Nearly 300 cooling centers were opened for people without air conditioning. Firefighters opened hydrants fitted with special sprinkler caps to douse squealing children.

The operator of New York state's electrical grid said power use was expected to peak Tuesday at more than 32,000 megawatts, enough electricity to power about 32 million homes, as people cranked up their air conditioners.

The weather was expected to ease somewhat Wednesday, with high temperatures in the mid-80s.