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Heat wave reaches into Northeast

Published August 2, 2006

NEW YORK - Blistering heat settled over the eastern half of the nation Tuesday, sending man and beast in desperate search of relief. An air-conditioned subway car in New York. A plunge into the Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey. And cold showers for suffering livestock in Ohio.

The same heat wave that was blamed for as many as 164 deaths in California brought a fifth straight day of oppressive weather to Chicago and promised at least three days of brow-mopping temperatures in the New York metropolitan area.

Residents on Chicago's South Side were evacuated from buildings by the hundreds, one day after the power went out to 20,000 customers. Illinois officials blamed three deaths on the heat. The blistering temperatures also scorched Conyers, Ga., where a high school football player died one day after collapsing at practice.

"I am pretty much dying," said Grace Hartmann, a New York University student. "I'm from California, where it's not this hot and not humid. To be honest, I can't believe it's going to be hotter" today.

By midafternoon, the temperature in Chicago was 100, Baltimore reached 99 and Washington hit 97. In New York, it was 95 in Central Park and 100 at LaGuardia Airport in Queens.

The National Weather Service said the mercury could reach 104 today, and Thursday could be bad, too.

"This is a very dangerous heat wave," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It's more than just uncomfortable. It can seriously threaten your life."

Boston reached 93, and in Philadelphia the temperature was 97, with a heat index of 110.

In Washington, the city's transit agency distributed bottles of water to thousands of commuters at three rail stations with limited escalator service. "We don't want to create a health situation," said agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

With a disastrous 10-day power outage in Queens still fresh in memory, New York adopted energy conservation measures. Thermostats in city offices were set at 78, up from the usual 72, and installations such as the Rikers Island jail used backup generators.

[Last modified August 2, 2006, 01:54:05]

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