Nightly News   |  July 17, 2013

Stifling heat extends across the country

So far the power grid is holding up to the demand of thousands of air conditioners, as many cities see temperatures five to 10 degrees above average. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> good evening from nova scotia west to michigan, south to virginia, cities and towns and people are all under strain because of the hottest temperatures of the summer and what is now the longest duration heat wave in a decade in some places. the system causing it just continues to sit there, while millions bake beneath it. for a lot of the east coast , cities like philadelphia, this week, right now, is traditionally the hottest week of the year every year. and this year has decided not to disappoint. we have it all covered tonight from the widespread heat to the forecast ahead to the latest and largest heat-fed wildfire out west near palm springs . we begin tonight with nbc's tom costello on the national mall . tom, good evening.

>> reporter: hi, brian. we got up to 102 today with the heat index in washington. hottest day of the year in chicago. a lot of cities haven't seen heat waves like this in years. boston expected to break a record that goes back to 1997 . and amtrak this evening says it has got disruptions on the northeast corridor because of heat that will likely inconvenience tens of thousands of customers. 'tis the season, but boy, is it hot outside. add in the humidity and the heat indices are at or near 100, from the lake shore in chicago to the streets of minneapolis. from the carolinas to new england.

>> i come out thinking i'm going to run as as far as i usually do, but then i hit the heat and i think, well, let scale that down just a little bit.

>> reporter: in new york, two children and nine firefighters were taken to area hospitals after a fire in suffocating temperatures last night.

>> has various vapor barriers that keep the heat in and have to relieve quite often and make sure we hydrate them.

>> this dome of hot air, high pressure , which means the air is sinking.

>> reporter: this heat wave is extending across the country. 45 states experiencing temperatures in the 90s or above. many cities five to ten degrees above average. new york city could see the longest stretch of 90-degree weather in 11 years. even hotter for the guys working the city food carts.

>> terrible. i sweat like a chicken, you know?

>> we need to drink a lot of water.

>> reporter: after three days of extreme heat in d.c., doctors at med star washington hospital center are starting to see heat stroke patients.

>> whether you're a worker with physical exertion or an athlete out there, you got to take breaks. you got to take water breaks. you got to take cooling breaks. you got to get out of the sun.

>> reporter: there is good news those for hundreds of people in maryland's prince georges county who thought they would be without water through the weekend. crews say they can fix the water main without turning off the water. out on the streets, making a buck means sweating a bucket.

>> i need sunscreen, i need sunglasses, i need this hat and i need gatorade, man.

>> reporter: this is david landerman's first week pedaling a cab. timing is everything. we checked on the status of the power grid . they tell us it's holding up well. in fact it would have to get even more hot, even more humid for longer stretches of time before the power grid would in any way be considered to be unstable. brian, back to you.

>> still getting over the image of that vendor sweating like a chicken. not swhur what that means. tom costello in washington starting us off tonight. tom, thanks.