Heat drives Long Islanders to beaches, malls
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The blast-furnace weather of late hasn't earned heat wave status, but it was more than enough on Friday to send sweltering Long Islanders to ocean beaches, shopping malls -- or anywhere else with decent air-conditioning.
Friday's high was a sizzling 87 degrees in Islip, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday's forecast calls for a similarly sweaty high of 86.
A heat advisory through Sunday night has been issued for New York City, where temperatures hit 90 on Friday in Central Park.
Thanks to scattered showers, Long Island should cool off slightly Sunday and reach the mid-80s on Monday, the weather service said. But factor in humidity, and meteorologist David Stark cautioned: "It's going to feel like the 90s in the middle of the afternoon."
A broken home air conditioner persuaded Glenda Umbdenstock, 65, of East Islip, to seek refuge at Huntington Station's Walt Whitman Shops. And work in some exercise.
"I've actually been doing a lot of Zumba classes because they have air-conditioning," she said.
Many of those who flocked to the mall were simply looking for a cool oasis.
"I take shelter in air-conditioned places or at the pool," said one of the refugees, Lydia Moore, 51, of New York City.
The Long Island Power Authority reported only minor outages on Friday, and officials are confident the utility can meet the extra demand for power as temperatures rise.
"We do have sufficient supply to meet the demand during the hot weather," said LIPA spokesman Elizabeth Flagler. "We will have extra crews available to address outages."
As people headed en masse to local beaches, the weather service warned of a high risk for ocean rip currents throughout the long holiday weekend.
Traffic was heavy early Friday afternoon on the Robert Moses Causeway, with beachgoers plotting various escapes plans from the brutal heat.
Gerri Vanmanen, 55, of West Islip, was counting on the cool marine air more than the surf. "I don't know if I'll be in the water today," she said.
Brandie Principe, 36, of Farmingdale, has her own tried-and-true method of cooling down: spray bottles.
"We fill them up with ocean water and as we get hot, we use them," she said.
By 11 a.m., Farmingdale's Multiplex Cinemas was drawing overheated people of all ages, many planning to see the children's flick "Monsters University," or action-packed "World War Z."
"I go to the movies and stay inside with the air-conditioning. There's not much else you can do," said Jodi McIntyre, 45, of Huntington.
Another moviegoer, Charles McFaul, 67, of Copiague, revealed how he managed to stay cool outdoors. He went to a Bay Shore restaurant in a terrific spot.
"Even though it was muggy out, it was great because it's right on the water and it was nice to feel the breeze," he said.
At the movies, Randolph Gilberti, 67, of Bay Shore, said he minimizes his use of air-conditioning by keeping his house as dark as possible.
"We also close all the windows in the house and let the attic fan bring the cool air from the basement up through the rest of the house," he said.
A shopper from Huntington said she has also found relief in her basement.
"I'm an artist, so I can paint in my basement where it's cooler," said Carolyn Ratay, 65.
Farmingdale's Home Depot drew a flurry of last-minute shoppers desperate for fans and air conditioners.
Nzita Ditele, 62, of Wheatley Heights, was shopping for a fifth home air conditioner.
"I can't imagine staying in a house without AC," he said. "It's very uncomfortable, but more than that, it's a health hazard."
With Gary Dymski
and Connor Ryan
WAYS TO KEEP COOL
Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight.
Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which could cause dehydration.
Spend more time in air-conditioned areas.
Reschedule strenuous activities for cooler times of the day.
Never leave children or pets in closed vehicles.
Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
SOURCES: NASSAU COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH; SUFFOLK COUNTY RED CROSS