Heat Wave Grips U.S.

A heat wave steams midtown Manhattan in New York on Tuesday, July 10, 2007. AP

There was plenty of complaining about the weather on Tuesday. But it's not hot enough to suit Shai Shavit.

"When you have hot days, the cars overheat," said Shavit, 41, owner of Tri State Towing, who has been carting away people's cars in the city for 20 years.

A high of around 93 was predicted for Tuesday in New York — but combined with humidity it was expected to feel like 98 degrees. On Monday, the temperature hit 92 in Central Park. Cooler weather and storms were forecast by Wednesday.

It was even hotter in Oregon, where temperatures in the southwest were expected to hit 105 and north-central's Pendleton was forecast to reach 106.

American cities — with their traffic, pollution and tall, breeze-blocking buildings — can be as much as 10 degrees hotter than the towns that surround them, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. Scientists call them "urban heat islands."

One of the primary causes of these heat islands are the thousands of black tar roofs, which essentially act like open ovens, reaching up to 150 degrees on a 90-degree day. To address this problem, architects across the country are designing buildings with landscaped terraces and roofs, which — with their air-cooling plants — can bring temperatures down by 8 to 10 degrees, reports Cordes.

More than a week of high temperatures across the West have also raised wildfire concerns. Conditions have gotten "super-dry," said Roger Peterson, a spokesman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. "And it's only going to get drier over the next few days."

In the East, the heat spread as far south as Virginia, where temperatures in the 90s prompted state officials to issue a hazardous weather alert. Richmond opened three cooling shelters Monday.

The West Virginia town of Bluefield offered free lemonade Tuesday after temps surpassed 90 degrees the day before, following a decades-old tradition.

In Washington, D.C., forecasters predicted a high of 96 degrees, which will feel like 101 with the humidity.

At least one school closed Tuesday because of a lack of air conditioning, several neighborhood cooling centers were open and public buses offered free rides in the northern Virginia suburbs.

New Jersey felt more like a hot house than a Garden State on Tuesday as high temperatures and humidity made it feel like 100 degrees in some places. Temperatures were expected to reach 93 in Trenton, 97 in Newark and 98 in Atlantic City.

Pennsylvania's state parks and swimming areas reopened Tuesday to those seeking relief from the heat, after a state budget deadlock forced a daylong furlough Monday of more than 24,000 state employees and shut down non-essential services.

New York City officials opened 290 cooling centers at city-run senior centers and community centers, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to help prevent blackouts by conserving power and to not exert themselves.

Last year, a heat wave that struck in late July and early August caused 40 deaths directly from heat stroke and contributed to the deaths of another 60 people, city health officials said.
  • Alfonso Serrano

Comments