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Heat records topple; little relief in sight

A heat wave that spread from the Midwest to the Northeast torments millions with blasts of 100-degree temperatures and several deaths.
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/ Source: staff and news service reports

A heat wave that spread from the Midwest to the Northeast tormented millions Saturday with blasts of 100-degree temperatures and dozens of deaths.

There was little hope that Saturday would bring much relief until the evening. The National Weather Service warned of excessive heat in several states, including parts of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It predicted "oppressive heat" with temperatures at least in the 90s.

A record-high temperature was set Saturday in New York City's Central Park when the temperature topped 100 degrees. John F. Kennedy airport hit 102, topping the July 23, 1972, record of 100. Newark, N.J. hit 102 degrees, hottest July 23 since it was 100 in 1955. On Friday, the Newark temperature hit a record-high for the day of 108.

Cooling centers were open in all five New York city boroughs, WNBC-TV reported.

"It's unbearable, you can't get away from it," Chris Aufrero, who was working construction in the blazing sun, told the NBC station. "No clouds, no shade, nothing. Just so hot."

Power was out for 22,000 customers in the New York metropolitan area Saturday afternoon.

Temperatures above 100 degrees did not stop thousands of Civil War re-enactors outside Washington, D.C., to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run. Re-enactment events continue Sunday.

Joseph Robertson, battalion chief for the Prince William County fire and rescue service, said nearly 150 people were evaluated, mostly for heat-related illnesses. He said 11 people were taken to hospitals, but no patients were believed to be critical.

In North Carolina, where temperatures topped 100 degrees Saturday, hospitals are seeing a rise in people seeking treatment for heat-related illnesses.

The American Red Cross is staffing a cooling station in Charlotte to provide drinks and snacks. About 200 people visited the station Friday, when it opened.

"A lot of these folks have no place to go," said Craig Jeske of the Red Cross. "We provide a cool environment, a place to get in and out of the hot weather."

Kansas City on Saturday saw its hottest day of the year, officially reaching 101 degrees, NBC station KSHB reported.

For the second day in a row, temperatures topped off at 101-degrees in the Philadelphia region, a record for July 23, topping 99 degrees in 1978 and 1991, the .

"The creator gave us the heat and I'm going to enjoy it," Walker Ferguson, 62, of Germantown, told the Inquirer while playing the blues on his electric guitar and throwing in a few melody lines with a harmonica outside the Reading Terminal Market. Besides, he added, "In the winter, we're going to be complaining about that."

"We have a weak cold front coming through Sunday through Monday, which will give us some relief, but not much," said NWS meteorologist Heather Sheffield in Washington, D.C.

Among other record temperatures for the day were Georgetown, Del., at 104 degrees, topping 101 in 1952 and Atlantic City, N.J., 105 degrees, breaking the 100-degree record set in 1991.

In Chicago, where the heat wave was busted Friday, rainfall measured at O'Hare International Airport beat all Windy City records for the wettest calendar day, at 6.86 inches, topping the last record of 6.65 inches in September 13, 2008, according to the National Weather Service.

Airlines at O'Hare reported delays due to the storm of up to one hour and have canceled over 100 flights, according to the city's aviation department.

Earlier in Baltimore, Dale Brown, who is homeless, said he was buying a $3.50 day pass to ride the commuter rail system to stay cool — and sober.

"I'm surprised more homeless people don't do that," he said. "That kills a lot of the day. One more day successful without drinking."

An old prison in Cranston, R.I., had to bring in portable air conditioners, fans and cold water for the 100 inmates on a cellblock with a broken AC. It had been out of commission for a month because it was so old a part had to be custom-made to fix it; the part is due Monday .

The heat wave wafted in from the Midwest — it began last weekend and did not break until Friday in Chicago — and is a suspected or confirmed cause in about three dozen deaths around the country.

On Friday, all-time record highs were set in Newark, N.J., at 108 degrees and Dulles, Va., at 105 degrees and tied in Bridgeport, Conn., at 103 degrees.

On Friday, the medical examiner's office in Chicago listed heat stress or heat stroke as the cause of death for seven people.

'Ethical obligation to offer care'A teenage landscaper who died in Louisville, Ky., was , by The Courier-Journal newspaper.

It reported that Johns became disoriented after working outside, pulling weeds and picking up trash. He was then taken by his stepfather and a co-worker to the

Norton Immediate Care Center in northeast Jefferson Count.

Eddie Robinson, a Deputy Jefferson County Coroner who interviewed the stepfather, told the paper that the care center did not treat Johns.

According to The Courier-Journal, Robinson said he was told that a care center worker said there was nothing they could do and that Johns, who remained outside the building, needed to go to a hospital emergency room.

The Courier-Journal said the stepfather called 911 and emergency crews arrived within 8 minutes and took Johns to Norton Suburban Hospital. He was treated there for more than hour, but died at 7:20 p.m.

Bill Smock, an emergency room physician, told the Courier-Journal that he would be disturbed if no one at the immediate-care center brought Johns into the air conditioning or made a call to 911.

"There is an ethical obligation to offer care. Their floor would have been cooler than the hot sidewalk. They could have poured water over him. You go to a medical facility expecting medical assistance," he said.

However Norton Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Hester, denied claims that Johns was refused care at the center. "He left before we could fully respond," Hester told the paper.

Hester said his staff would not turn away someone in need of help, and said they had not been given enough information by Johns' family. "Unfortunately, in this situation, we never got the chance to treat," he told the paper.

Meanwhile, Jake Crouch, a climatologist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said the heat wave was taking its place in the record books for duration, alongside deadly hot spells in 1988 and 1995 that lasted a week or more.

'Didn't think legs could sweat'Richard Karty, who teaches urban ecology at the New School in New York City, said, "If one urban area is next to another urban area, like New York and Newark, it's just going to compound both the heat and the air pollution."

Dayana Byrnes, 21, of Waldorf, Md., learned something new about herself as she worked outdoors in Washington to promote a website with free bottled drinks.

"I didn't think legs could sweat," Byrnes said.

In Manchester, Conn., the fire department sent out a vehicle to distribute cold water to road crews.

Horse races were canceled at several tracks.

But hundreds of people who lined up outside the Izod Center in Newark to audition for NBC's "The Voice" were undeterred.