Scorching temperatures engulfed the northeast on Sunday during the summer’s first prolonged heat wave, with a record five straight days of triple-digit temperatures in Newark and blistering heat in Boston; Providence, R.I.; and Manchester, NH
Other parts of the country were also sweltering, with temperatures in Oklahoma hitting 100 degrees in nine of the past 11 days.
The sweltering heat underscored the sobering reality that such dangerous temperatures are becoming a summer norm for the United States and elsewhere, with heatwaves, wildfires and droughts disrupting everyday life around the world.
Heat waves in the United States have risen from an average of two per year in the 1960s to six per year in the 2010s. The past seven years have been the warmest in the history of accurate global records.
The heat wave in the northeast, which hit some of the country’s most densely populated corridors, left residents looking for help. In New York City, temperatures stayed just below record highs on Sunday afternoon, reaching 94 in Central Park, as lines formed at the city’s pools, despite many dealing with a shortage of lifeguards.
William Jimenez, 59, took his 13-year-old son to the Crotona Park pool in the Bronx early in the day, knowing the place would be mobbed later.
“The weather is getting warmer and warmer,” he said. “The best thing is to be in the pool and park.”
Elsewhere in the Bronx, many streets turned into paved water parks, thanks to open fire hydrants spilling onto sidewalks. In several places wooden planks were extended in the street so that people could avoid the small rivers.
Tina Hernandez, 24, and her 12-year-old stepdaughter laughed as they threw water at each other at an open fire hydrant on Monroe Avenue.
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“It’s been absolutely crazy,” Ms. Hernandez said. “The house is the warmest part in summer. We tried to run through the sprinklers. It was hard to keep a cool head.”
In Newark, the temperature reached 100 degrees, a record for the date and the fifth day of more than 100 degrees measurements, the longest recorded run for the city. Providence reached 97 degrees, breaking its previous record of 94 in 1987, and Boston reached a blistering 99 degrees, breaking its previous record of 98 in 1933.
From Boston to Philadelphia to St. Louismajor cities declared heat emergencies and advisories lasting all weekend, with some initiating services to keep residents cool, such as opening libraries as cold stores. In notoriously swampy Washington, DC, where temperatures fluctuated in the 1990s, officials said extended opening hours for some of the city swimming poolsand Kansas City, Mo., tips released on Twitter for residents to prevent heat from damaging their home’s foundation.
Philadelphia, which declared a heat emergency on Thursday, halted a plan to cut off water to customers with delinquent bills, citing the heat wave.
Terry Greene, 62, said he always enjoyed the heat in Washington, DC, but has become thankful for the air conditioning in the church where he works as a maintenance worker.
“When I go to work outside, I just prepare for it. I know I have to come early in the morning,” Mr. Greene said.
Farther south, Jesse Williams, 40, was gearing up for a long shift in front of a 600-degree oven at Memphis Pizza Cafe in Memphis, Tennessee, where the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory. The temperature was expected to reach 100 degrees.
“If I hadn’t let this little shop fan blow on me, I would probably have heat stroke,” said Mr Williams.
in Boston, race organizers have postponed the city’s annual triathlon. In New York, organizers shortened a similar race to account for temperatures; the water temperature rose to nearly 80 degrees when the race started around sunrise.
In Philadelphia, utility company PECO . has deployed strategies for customers to save electricity, such as washing clothes in cold water and installing window treatments. In New York, officials asked residents: to run their air conditioners at 78 degrees to reduce the pressure on the city’s electricity grid. By noon, no major outages had been reported — something energy officials attributed to more efficient appliance systems.
“I’m 53 years old and I don’t remember it ever being this hot,” said Lonnie Coleman, a retired Philadelphia School District employee who relaxed at the Schuylkill in the morning hours on Sunday, hoping to beat the afternoon heat. .
Elsewhere in Philadelphia, children, dogs and a few adults splashed into the shallows near the Logan Square fountain.
Laura McSloy, a food service worker from the Brewerytown section, was sitting in the fountain pool.
“It’s so hot outside that I felt bad for the dog,” said Ms. McSloy, 47.
Temperatures also skyrocketed outside the northeast. Outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charley Pearson, 63, said the prolonged heat had been difficult for the small volunteer fire department he heads. He described a particularly difficult situation involving a man who had collapsed outside his home with heart problems.
“The guy was in the sun, no shade to be found, so here we are outside pumping the chest in 104, 105-degree weather,” he said.
In downtown Oklahoma City, where temperatures rose to 96 degrees in the early afternoon, children laughed and splashed about in the water feature in Scissortail Park. But the function wasn’t just for play: it’s a last source of drink for some homeless people in the city. Brian Brust, 52 and just homeless, said it was one of the first lessons he learned when he started living on the streets.
“People tell me to come here,” said Mr. Brust. “It’s hard to find water on the street.”
He waited around noon in the shadow of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library with numerous other homeless people. It is one of the state’s 75 designated refrigeration centers but didn’t open until 1pm
The crippling heat on Sunday dropped as parts of the country already struggled to cope with a spate of heat-related emergencies, such as the crippling drought in the Southwest and an alarmingly active wildfire season in New Mexico, Arizona and California. The Oak Firenear Yosemite National Park, has scorched over 14,000 square acres.
A similar scorching heat wave will engulf parts of the Northwest next week, with cities like Seattle expected to experience temperatures above 100 degrees.
In the Bronx, Wanda Rosser, 58, and Yvonne Miles, 62, friends for more than 40 years, sat in the shadows outside the New York City Housing Authority’s Butler Houses development on Sunday afternoon.
They reacted differently to the heat.
“I’m a summer baby,” Mrs. Rosser said. “Just enjoy it!”
But Ms. Miles said she struggled with her asthma in the hot weather.
Yet she said, ‘You must live. It’s mother nature.”
Reporting was contributed by Adam Bednar, Téa Kvetenadze, Jon Hurdle, Luke Vander Ploeg, Ben Fenwick and April Rubin.