CBSN

Finally, Relief From The Heat

Ricky Bowman, of Bloomsburg, Pa., raises his arms in relief as rain soaks him Thursday afternoon, Aug. 3, 2006, on West Main Street in Bloomsburg where thunderstorms passed through the area, bringing cooler temperatures.
AP Photo/M.J. McDonald
When does 82 degrees at eight in the morning look good? When it's on a day when the mercury won't be climbing near triple digits.

The Friday rush-hour reading in New York City is welcome news after three days of blistering – and deadly – heat.

A cold front passed over the New York area on Thursday night and was heading south, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Maloit said early Friday. Temperatures were gradually subsiding in some areas, but cities such as Philadelphia and Washington were not yet in the clear, he said.

"On Saturday, they'll have their break from the heat, too," Maloit said.

Some relief rolled in after nightfall, as thunderstorms were reported in parts of the East.

Temperatures in Chicago and Detroit dropped Thursday, but they climbed to record levels in several cities, including 97 in Bridgeport, Conn.; 98 in Islip, N.Y.; and 100 in Newark, N.J., and Baltimore, the weather service said.

Virginia Beach reached a high of 99 degrees, but the humidity made it feel like 111.

Authorities have confirmed that heat played a role in at least 27 deaths in 11 states and the District of Columbia since the scorching temperatures set in Sunday. Heat was suspected in at least eight other deaths.

New York City reported its first heat-related death of the year, an unidentified man whose body was found in Brooklyn. And in Hempstead, N.Y., an 83-year-old woman was pronounced dead of heat exhaustion.

In northern Indiana, heat killed an inmate at the mostly un-air-conditioned Indiana State Prison and contributed to the death of another, officials said Thursday.

In Michigan, the brutal temperatures may have caused the death of a 50-year-old man who was pouring concrete at a construction site, authorities said.

The heat took its toll on the power grid, too. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were left without power at some point during the heat wave, reports CBS News correspondent Trish Regan.

The problem isn't a shortage of power, Regan reports, but getting electricity into homes and businesses. Aging distribution lines and cables are breaking down under the increased stress.

Consolidated Edison, the utility that serves much of the New York metropolitan area, said about 1,200 customers — roughly 4,800 people — were without power Friday morning. On Long Island, about 1,600 people were in the dark.

Thousands of customers in downtown Stamford, Conn., lost power after demand caused some underground lines to catch fire and put others at risk of extensive damage. Some businesses were evacuated.

Heat-related illnesses were numerous: In Charlotte, N.C., organizers suspended competition for several hours after three people at the USA Masters Track and Field Championships were hospitalized amid 95-degree temperatures. There was no immediate word on their conditions.

In New York, residents of an apartment building on Manhattan's East Side awoke Thursday to find their refrigerators off and their elevators shut down due to a power outage.

At Todaro Bros., a specialty food store nearby, the dwindling power illuminated only a few of the refrigeration cases.

"We have everything on ice and we've sealed up the refrigerators ... but there are going to be losses," said manager Mike Spano.