A heat wave is being blamed for the deaths of at least 10 people and has put a heavy strain on power resources. Tens of thousands of New York City residents went without electricity during the hottest part of the day.
In Central Park Tuesday, the mercury rose to 101 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record of 98 set in 1986.
The heat has been so severe throughout the Independence Day holiday weekend and beyond, that roads and bridges buckled, power supplies failed and hospitals were deluged with people suffering from heat exhaustion.
Power failed Tuesday night in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan. About 200,000 residents in the densely populated three-mile square area awoke to find themselves without street lights, traffic signals, subway service, refrigeration or air-conditioning.
"We have never seen electrical loads like this in the history of our company," J. Michael Evans, president of Consolidated Edison Inc. said at a news conference. "We've never seen heat like this in New York City."
At last count, only a fraction of those who initially lost power were still without electricity.
Officials at Con Ed warn that other neighborhoods, including Manhattan's Lower East Side, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens, are at risk for power outages. They continue to urge residents to cut back on their use of electricity.
Power companies have been forced to shop for more power, and as CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason reports, that's been a difficult task for New England.
Usually, the region would buy power from neighboring states, but the entire Northeast is suffering under this heat wave. So this week New England has had to buy power from Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and Canada, an expensive solution the industry calls wheeling.
Utility companies buy electricity futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange, guaranteeing enough power for the coming year at a locked-in price. But in an emergency, electricity trader Steve Ferraro says utilities have to buy next-hour power.
"If you need that power, you need to get it immediately," Ferraro says. "You're gonna be calling up everybody and you're gonna pay whatever the market demands."
In the heat of the moment Tuesday, New England was paying 50 times the national average of $20 per megawatt hour. Luckily for consumers, the middlemen who broker these energy deals are usually the ones who absorb the losses.
And the blistering heat has taken a severe toll. At Manhattan's Grand Central terminal, emergency teams treated sweltering commuters pulled from a faulty train.
Rains brought relief to parts of the region, while temperatures in the 80's broke the relentless string of days with excessive heat.
In the New England states of Vermont ad New Hampshire, it was violent thunderstorms overnight rather than the heat that caused power outages. At one point more than 100,000 customers were without power.
More than a dozen record high temperatures were set from West Virginia to Connecticut Tuesday:
|Roanoke, Va.||100 (tie)|
|Atlantic City, N.J.||99|
|Providence, R.I.||97 (tie)|
Source: The Weather Channel
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