East Coast Still Burning Up; Relief Comes Thurs.

Paul Tauber, a battalion chief with the New York Fire Department, cools himself after firefighters responded to a residential building fire Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo
Updated at 7:20 p.m. Eastern

The eastern U.S. cooked for another day Wednesday as unrelenting heat pushed thermometers past 100 degrees in urban "heat islands," buckled roads, warped rails and pushed utilities toward the limit of the electrical grid's capacity.

On Wednesday in Washington, D.C., paramedics were on track to field nearly 300 more calls than usual, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor. Temperatures Thursday are expected to be a little more bearable: in the high 80s and low 90s for much of the east coast.

Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va., were already at 97 degrees by late morning Wednesday. Philadelphia eventually hit 100 degrees, breaking an 11-year record. Triple digit forecasts extended as far south as Charlotte, N.C. Cities farther north, including New York, were predicted to get into the high 90s. It eventually reached 100 degrees in New York, though higher humidity made it feel hotter.

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In New York, Wall Streeters are sweltering in business suits on subway platforms, senior citizens are schlepping to the grocery store on streets that seem like frying pans, and New Yorkers overall are handling it by doing what they do best: coping, with a little complaining thrown in.

Megan Dack coolly checked her cell phone as she waited on a roasting, elevated subway platform in Brooklyn while wearing a black dress and black opaque tights. Her retail job bars bare legs, she said.

"It's not so bad for, like, 10 minutes," said Dack, who recently moved to the city from Cocoa Beach, Fla. "I'm used to the heat."

For those who aren't, city officials have designated libraries, senior citizen centers and other places as public cooling centers.

Plenty of people across the East were looking for oases of their own.

Sue Robels, 22, was getting out of the heat at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute science museum for an exhibit on Cleopatra.

"My apartment isn't air conditioned, so it's going to be museums, movies, Starbucks, anywhere else but at home today," she said.

Scattered power outages affected customers up and down the coast and usage approached record levels. In the Washington, D.C., area, nearly 1,000 customers were without power Wednesday, while New Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, reported about 6,500 customers without power. Consolidated Edison in New York said it was working to restore power to about 6,300 customers, down from outages to 18,700 customers Tuesday.

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., said four midshipmen who had just completed an obstacle course Wednesday needed medical attention for possible heat exhaustion.

In Middletown, Conn., police charged two high school assistant football coaches with reckless endangerment after a player collapsed while running an uphill sprint Tuesday evening.

Police in Park Ridge, N.J., evacuated a nursing home and rehabilitation center after an electrical line burned out Tuesday evening. In Maryland, health officials moved all 150 residents out of a Baltimore nursing home whose operators didn't report a broken air conditioner. The state learned of the home's troubles when a resident called 911.

A radio station distributed free bottled water to day laborers on New York's Long Island, while social workers in Pittsburgh did the same for the homeless there.

Transportation officials cut the speed of commuter trains in suburban Washington and New York for fear that the heat had warped the tracks. Some New Jersey train service was canceled.

A 100-degree reading at noon in Trenton, N.J., broke a 17-year-old record. Philadelphia hit 100 for the second straight day, breaking a record of 98 degrees set in 1999. Newark, N.J., hit triple digits for the fourth straight day, something that hasn't happened since 1993. Raleigh, N.C., reached 101 degrees Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 100 in 1977.

Forecasters were predicting modest relief in the coming days. The National Weather Service expects temperatures in New York to approach 90, with humidity making it feel hotter, through at least next Wednesday.

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports that heat stroke is a very serious condition which requires immediate medical help and that those especially at risk include the very young, the elderly and people with underlying medical problems. Symptoms include high temperature, dizziness and confusion

LaPook advises people to drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-sugery fluids, especially after waking up in the morning.