Countercurrents Collective | July 21, 2019
The deadly heat wave gripping much of the U.S. has resulted at least 6 deaths, hit tens of millions of people, left tens of thousands of people in New York and Michigan without power, and caused the cancellation of many public events.
As more than two-thirds of the U.S. feeling temperatures push into the triple digits the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned the heat can be a silent killer.
The weather began to break in some spots: A day after it was 94 when Minnesota hosted Oakland – the second-hottest start in Target Field’s 10-year history – it was about 20 degrees cooler in the Twin Cities.
Media reports said:
The baking temperature could affect up to 200 million people from the central U.S. to the East Coast.
Of the 6 heat-caused deaths, 4 died in Maryland, while one died in Arizona and another in Arkansas. Former New York Giants lineman Mitch Petrus, 32, died Thursday night after suffering from an apparent heat stroke.
Several events were canceled in New York City, including OZY Fest and the NYC Triathlon. This is the first time the triathlon has ever been cancelled.
Tens of millions are set to broil in record-setting high temperatures this weekend, with heat advisories or warnings in effect from the Midwest to much of the East Coast.
Temperatures are expected to range from the mid 90’s to the triple digits, with the heat index making it feel as hot as 100 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Life Time, which has been producing the NYC Triathlon for the past seven years, donated more than 12 tons, or 1,900 gallons, of water and Gatorade Endurance to be distributed to New Yorkers in need during the heat wave.
Power outage hits NYC
A power outage occurred in Madison due to a fire damaging a substation. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Thousands of New Yorkers were left without power in the middle of this weekend’s scorching heat wave.
According to utility company PSEG Long Island, over 9,000 customers lost power Saturday afternoon in Far Rockaway, Queens and on Long Island.
The utility reportedly restored power to their Queens customers around 6:15 p.m. however, over 2,000 Long Island customers were still in the dark.
The MTA reported that a train and Rockaway Park shuttles service lost power Saturday evening.
Biscuit baked in car in Nebraska
The National Weather Service in Omaha, Nebraska, baked biscuits in a parked car using only the heat of the sun. The agency put four biscuits on a baking sheet, then left them on the dashboard of a parked car in the sun to begin its experiment.
Over the course of the next eight hours, the weather service shared updates on how the biscuits were doing.
After about 45 minutes, the biscuits began to rise, and after an hour, the pan temperature reached 175 degrees. “This is a good time to remind everyone that your car does in fact get deadly hot,” the agency tweeted. “Look before you lock! On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year. Don’t be a statistic!”
At the five-hour mark, the agency reported the top of the biscuits were baked, and even the temperature in the shady part of the car had reached 144 degrees.
“And after nearly 8 hours in the sun, the outside of the biscuit is actually edible,” the agency wrote in its final update. “The middle is still pretty doughy though. The max temp on the pan was 185!”
Record high temperatures from Maine to Virginia
Record high temperatures have already been recorded at New York City’s JFK Airport, Long Island’s MacArthur Airport, Atlantic City, Blacksburg, Virginia, and Millinocket in northern Maine.
Central Maine experienced blackouts Saturday. Thousands of Central Maine Power customers dealt with power outages, ranging from inland towns in York County to the city of Lewiston, CBS Portland affiliate WGME reports.
The entire state of Maine is under a heat advisory.
Weather emergency in Washington D.C.
Washington, D.C. is one of several east coast cities where high heat and humidity is making it feel like it’s over 100 degrees. City officials are monitoring the heatwave from the emergency operations center.
Washington, D.C., joined dozens of cities in declaring a weather-related emergency ahead of record-breaking temperatures expected throughout the weekend.
“This is going to be one of the most severe heat events that we’ve had in the last several years,” said a city medical official at top level.
Medical crews were standing by the National Mall Saturday, ready to treat heat-related illnesses at this weekend’s outdoor Apollo 11 festival.
This is the first major heat wave to scorch the country this summer. Climate scientists say more to expect.
Baltimore heat index hits 122
Baltimore logged a heat index of 122 degrees early Saturday evening. The city is one of a handful of locations experiencing a heat index in the triple digits.
NYC monitoring the city’s largest jail
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Saturday that the city’s Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Braun is monitoring the situation at Rikers Island, the city’s largest jail. “Summer clothes have been distributed, clinics are open 24/7, and medical personnel are on site for emergencies,” de Blasio wrote.
The average daily jail population at Rikers is over 9,000 people. The jail is located on an island between the Bronx and Queens, and is accessible by bus from Queens.
In 2014, an inmate died in a cell that had overheated to over 100 degrees in February. A city official told the Associated Press the inmate “basically baked to death” when he was left unchecked for at least four hours as malfunctioning equipment caused his cell to overheat.
NYC beaches and pools to stay open late
NYC authorities have opened almost 500 air-conditioned “cooling centers” in public facilities.
Bill de Blasio announced NYC’s beaches and pools would stay open later than usual. Olympic-size pools and intermediate-sized outdoor pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beaches will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
As part of the mayor’s executive order, all office buildings 100 feet and taller must set their thermostats to 78 degrees to conserve energy until Sunday night. At a press conference on Friday, de Blasio said this was the first time this has been done.
The city’s cooling centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in some cases, there will be extended hours, de Blasio said.
The New York City Public Library announced to open five additional branches in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island on Sunday, July 21.
Midwestern cities like Milwaukee will also be affected by high heat.
Cities in Virginia and North Carolina will see some of the hottest air of the season.
Oficials in Massachusetts are urging residents to wear loose clothing and be alert for signs of a heat stroke.
Daytime temperatures will climb into the mid to upper 90s – and feel like more than 100 degrees – from the Great Plains to the East Coast.
Heat wave in the Big Apple
Across the upper East Coast on Saturday, the weather service said, the most dangerous time will be mid-afternoon into early evening, when temperatures and humidity will peak.
“Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside,” the service said. “When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to the early morning the late evening.”
In Philadelphia and New Jersey, the weather service warned the heat might cause heat stress or heat stroke. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are most at risk.
In Detroit, where residents will see a heat index of up to 105 degrees Saturday, more than 200,000 people did not have power in the early morning hours after thunderstorms caused trees and branches to take down power lines.
Boston expected to hit 100 degrees
The hot temperatures extended north to New England, where temperatures are expected to hit 100 degrees in Boston.
The city has only had temperatures over 100 25 times in the nearly 150 years of record keeping in Boston, about once every six years on average.
The National Weather Service has issued an “excessive heat warning” for most of southern New England on Saturday, expecting heat indexes near 110. Nantucket was the only area not under the warning.
More triple-digit heat indexes on the way
A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists that found by 2050, the number of days where the heat index hits 105 will triple. By the start of the next century, Boston could have the same number of extreme heat days as Columbia, South Carolina does now. Countercurrents.org has already covered the report.
Many events canceled in NYC
In New York, which has declared an emergency, many events have been canceled or postponed after concerns of participants’ health.
Central Park festival OZY Fest has been canceled due to the heat wave.
The festival advertised John Legend, Trevor Noah, Miguel, Tove Lo, Alex Rodriguez, Megan Rapinoe, Rachael Ray, Padma Lakshmi, Spike Lee and 2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke as guests.
Saturday’s card of horse racing at New York’s Saratoga Race Course was canceled. So were all races Saturday and Sunday at the Maryland Jockey Club in Laurel.
Severe storms threaten Minnesota
After heat indexes in parts of Minnesota made temperatures feel as hot as 116 degrees, the area is under a severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning on Saturday.
A compact cluster of thunderstorms are tracking due east across central Minnesota from late Saturday morning through the afternoon. This line of storms could pack near-hurricane-force winds.
Southeastern Minnesota is under a Flash Flood Alert until 7 p.m.
These are not average severe thunderstorm warnings. The atmosphere is charged up in southern Minnesota even more so than Friday, and residents in the warning areas should treat these advisories as if they are tornado warnings due to the potential of damaging winds.
Hold off on crime until heat wave is over
Police in Braintree, Massachusetts, have asked residents “to hold off” all criminal activity until the extreme heat is over.
“Folks. Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “It is straight up hot as soccer balls out there. Conducting criminal activity, in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous.”
The high in Braintree is expected to reach 95 degrees, with a real feel of 106 degrees.
“Stay home, blast the AC, binge ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3, play with the face app, practice karate in your basement We will all meet again on Monday when it’s cooler.”
Threat of children in hot cars
Twenty-one children have died so far this year after being left in hot cars – a risk that rises when the temperature rises.
Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital demonstrated how hot a car could get. The temperature rose from 96 degrees to 124 in half an hour.
Green alleys in Chicago
The soaring heat is especially dangerous for outdoor workers. To keep Chicago cool, the city has installed hundreds of green alleys, made with materials that absorb less heat than black asphalt.
New York City also has a program that paints roofs white to reflect the sun.
Look after the older people
The town of Braintree, Massachusetts, for example, is urging the populace to “stay cool and hydrated” and to check on elderly neighbors.
Inmates and homeless
Activists are trying to save inmates from baking in prisons, and authorities hurry to take the homeless off the sizzling streets.
In New York, advocacy groups sounded alarms over the lack of air conditioning and summer clothes at the Rikers Island jail, and said the guards there have punished the inmates’ attempts to stay cool.
The Brooklyn Defender Services has called on the NYC mayor and the Department of Corrections Commissioner Cynthia Brann to protect inmates from the heat.
“Most incarcerated people are without air conditioning and the limited number of fans are only in the day rooms, leaving people to swelter, particularly while in their cells,” the organization said. “DOC is not providing appropriate summer clothes to many of our clients. People with medical needs have reported feeling nauseous and dizzy.”
Rikers inmates have died due to overheating before. Back in 2014, a prisoner “basically baked to death” in his cell due to malfunctioning heating equipment.
Rikers is just one example, and numerous prisons across the states remain without functional air conditioning.
Another vulnerable group – the homeless – have been plagued by the heat as well – they likely had it worst, in fact, being deprived from air conditioning, shelter and readily available water.
Relief groups and authorities have been trying to check up on the homeless and provide them with some means to fend off the heat.
In Indianapolis, for example, the Metropolitan Police Department had to step in and cops have spent hours distributing cold water to the homeless and directing them to shelters, where they could cool down.
Each year, summer heat kills more Americans on average than any other natural disaster, CNNmeteorologist Cabrera said.