After searing heat suffocated large swathes of the US this weekend, the coming days are expected to bring more temperatures moderate to areas of the Northeast, while temperatures in the Pacific Northwest will begin to intensify.
The sweltering temperatures broke several records over the weekend and prompted local officials to declare heat emergencies. Cities baking under the prolonged heat also moved to provide relief measures, including cooling stations, splash pads and additional outreach to people experiencing homelessness.
Concern for participants’ safety pushed organizers of the New York City Triathlon to dramatically cut race distances and urge athletes to stay hydrated. Boston’s annual triathlon event was postponed until next month due to the city’s blistering heat, which hit a daily record of 100 degrees Sunday.
The weekend saw sizzling temperatures that put more than 90 million people under excessive heat alerts Sunday across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Ohio River Valley, and Central Plains. Northeastern cities were particularly hard hit, as several broke high temperature records, including Providence, Rhode Island, and Hartford, Connecticut.
Boston and Philadelphia, which hit a record 99 degrees Sunday, extended their heat emergency warnings through Monday, warning residents to take measures to avoid heat-related illnesses as heat indexes – a measure of how hot it actually feels due to combined heat and humidity – are expected to be in the high 90s.
“As we lengthen the heat emergency for a second time, it is evident that a changing climate is a public health risk for our City,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “I’m thankful for the many City employees who have helped us get through the first part of this emergency, and urge residents to continue to take care of one another.”
Excessive heat poses real health hazards, particularly for high-risk groups like the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses and mental health problems, according to the CDC. When people’s bodies are not able to cool down enough or lose too much water, they may be at risk of potentially life-threatening conditions such as heatstroke or heat exhaustion.
On Saturday, at least one person died from heat exposure in New York city, according to the medical examiner’s office, which notes the man had preexisting conditions. The city’s high temperature that day was 97 degrees.
More than 40 million people across the US are under heat alerts Monday morning, primarily in the Northeast, central US and Pacific Northwest. But after Tuesday, temperatures in the Northeast will begin to drop closer to normal levels.
In the Central US, parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi are under heat advisories. The heat indexes in the region could reach as high as 112 degrees through Tuesday.
Meanwhile, parts of the Pacific Northwest – which experienced a much cooler start to the year compared to eastern counterparts – are under several excessive heat watches Monday that have the potential to be upgraded to heat warnings as the day goes on. Those high temperatures are expected to stretch on through the week and may continue into next week as well.
Scorching heat left tens of thousands without power over the weekend as high temperatures drove outages, conditions which were exacerbated in some regions by ongoing storms.
In Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, approximately 20,000 customers were struck by a power outage Sunday, power company Eversource said in a statement.
Eversource was working to restore power to a remaining approximately 7,500 customers Sunday afternoon, and advised residents to avoid using large appliances during peak hours and adjust their thermostats to a few degrees higher than normal to reduce energy usage.
New York City electricity provider Con Edison said its workers continued “restoring scattered outages caused by the scorching heat” Sunday afternoon as the company also prepared for another weather challenge – forecast thunderstorms Monday.
The company did not say how many of its customers were affected by the outages, but said in a statement Sunday that its employees have been “replacing and repairing cable and other equipment to get customers back in service.”
The company said it planned to bring in additional employees to help fix damaged overhead wires and equipment in anticipation of Monday’s storms.
Saturday afternoon storms in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, knocked out power for more than 10,000 customers, leaving impacted residents without electricity as near-record temperatures were forecast across the region.
Local power company West Penn Power said in a statement that high temperatures were impacting its services Sunday, even as it braced for additional storms. The company said on Twitter Sunday that it was working to restore service to around 6,000 customers without power, down from about 39,000 total customers impacted.