AMERICANS CAN'T ESCAPE SWELTERING HEAT
By JOANN LOVIGLIO, Associated Press Writer
July 18, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - The heat wave that has gripped most of the nation showed
few signs of abating Tuesday and may persist for some regions until the weekend.
Temperatures predicted to
soar past 100 degrees in parts of the Plains, Great Basin, Desert Southwest and California
Valley. And a cold front on track to push southeastward through the Northeast,
northern Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley,
brings a slight risk of severe thunderstorms, some with large hail and damaging winds.
But it is the stagnant,
sticky, downright dense heat that blanketed much of the northeast that has residents such as Philadelphia's Cheryl Kennedy worried.
"Insanity. Insanity!" she
After a long sip from her
bottled water, Kennedy added, "This is not fit for human beings. Without air conditioning, I don't think many of us could
last like this for too long."
She and millions of Americans
may have no choice.
Scores of communities Monday
reported temperatures of more than 100 degrees: Redding, Calif.,
about 160 miles north of Sacramento, reached 110 degrees; Grand Junction
in western Colorado hit 101; Russell,
Kan., hit 108. At least four deaths have been blamed on the heat, and the heat
is suspected in at least three others.
Parts of the Midwest got
a little relief Tuesday from a cool front squeezing down from Canada.
The 8 a.m. temperature in Milwaukee was 65, compared 76 at
the same time Monday.
The cooler air set off storms
in Wisconsin and Michigan,
with utilities in the two states reporting more than 300,000 customers black out. One woman was reported killed by lightning
early Tuesday in Detroit.
The Northeast could get
a break starting Tuesday night, with scattered showers and thunderstorms expected for parts of the region, but the heat was
likely to persist in the southern Plains until Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
The heat killed a 76-year-old
Oklahoma City man in a house where the air conditioner was
broken, officials said Tuesday. Three other deaths in Oklahoma
were suspected to be linked to the heat.
A 60-year-old woman was
found dead of lung disease and heat stress in her Philadelphia
home. In Arkansas, authorities blamed the heat for at least
one death but did not release any details. On Saturday, a 3-year-old boy died in South
Bend, Ind., after apparently locking himself inside a car in 90-degree
The heat may have caused
a New York subway train to lose power, stranding commuters
for about 2 1/2 hours. About 70 people had to be evacuated. A transit spokesman said the power loss may have been caused when
the "third rail" — which powers the train — buckled.
A train derailment in rural
Oklahoma's Lincoln County on Monday afternoon might have been attributable to the heat, Highway Patrol
Capt. Stewart Meyer said. There were no injuries.
One of LaGuardia
Airport's four terminals and part of a second lost power in New York when high demand caused by the heat triggered equipment problems.
In Illinois, state officials made more than 130 office buildings available as cooling centers.
Detroit cranked up the air conditioning in 11 of its libraries
and invited the public to take refuge from the heat. In Kentucky, Louisville officials offered free fans or air conditioners to those in immediate need.
The heat pushed power consumption
to a record in some states, and calls also went out for electricity conservation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state offices to adjust thermostats and turn
off nonessential lights for the rest of the week.
PJM Interconnection, which
operates the electric grid for all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia,
asked people to reduce usage, especially between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
In Chicago, the stifling weather prompted organizers of the Gay Games to deliver extra water
and sports drinks to athletes. Spokesman Kevin Boyer said organizers asked competitors to bring extra ice and fluids to various
events. Several cities, including the District of Columbia,
opened cooling centers for people.
For some, the heat was a
bonanza. Rick Boaz, owner of Oklahoma City AC Rescue, said his air conditioning installation and repair business is busier
"We're getting more business
than we can handle — it's just the heat," Boaz said. "I'd hate for the heat to affect my business but the reality of
it is, extreme temperatures drive my business."
At the Cincinnati Zoo &
Botanical Garden, gorillas got frozen fruit treats, bears played with ice-covered fish, elephants were hosed down, and large
fans, water sprinklers and kiddie pools helped other animals stay cool.
Construction worker Chuck
Trautman, 54, of Pittsburgh, spends his days outdoors working
with a blow torch and wearing heavy protective gear.
"When you're burning with
that torch, it makes it twice as hot," he said. "But you've just got to deal with it."