Potential for heat wave as temps soar

Tristyn Forde, 12, of Springfield Gardens, celebrates summer

Tristyn Forde, 12, of Springfield Gardens, celebrates summer vacation and his last day of the sixth grade with classmates at Jones Beach. (June 19, 2012) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

It was a first-day-of-summer scorcher.

The thermometer hit 91 degrees at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma early Wednesday afternoon -- and it felt like 101 degrees at one point, the National Weather Service said.

In Upton, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the record of 93 degrees was tied.

Potentially record-breaking temperatures in the 90s are in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Nash said. It will feel hotter on western Long Island and a little cooler along the South Shore courtesy of a sea breeze off the ocean, she said.

On Wednesday, thousands were dealing with the heat without power.

As of 8:17 p.m., the Long Island Power Authority was reporting 3,175 power outages in Nassau County and 925 in Suffolk County, most of them heat-related, a spokesman said. In East Meadow, 1,729 customers were without power; Levittown, 963; Commack, 677, according to the LIPA website.

As of 11 p.m. Wednesday, LIPA reported power restored to many of its customers. Outages were down to 1,674 in Nassau, and 323 in Suffolk. The higher number of outages then were 1,065 in Hempstead, 310 in Oyster Bay, 299 in North Hempstead and 266 in Brookhaven.

A heat advisory issued Wednesday for Nassau was later issued for western Suffolk -- as heat index values reached between 100 and 104 degrees, the weather service said.

The advisory was lifted for Suffolk County, but extended in Nassau County through Thursday at 7 p.m., according to the weather service. As of just past 8 p.m. Wednesday, the temperature in Hempstead was 89 degrees, with a heat index of 95 degrees.

The weather service was forecasting a high temperature of 96 degrees Thursday and 91 degrees on Friday, Nash said.

The record temperature for June 20 at MacArthur and Brookhaven National Laboratory was 93 degrees, set in 1995.

The record at MacArthur and Brookhaven for June 21 is 93, set in 1988; and for June 22 it's 91, also set in 1988.

For Wednesday, the weather service issued an air-quality alert for Long Island, beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting until 11 p.m., as well as a rip-current advisory for ocean beaches.

An air quality alert is issued when pollution levels are elevated, creating a risk of adverse health conditions. Senior citizens and the young, as well as those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease, are advised to limit outdoor activities.

Due to concerns over ozone levels, an air quality health advisory was issued for Thursday, in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Department of Health.

A heat advisory is issued to warn that "spending prolonged periods of time outside" can be "dangerous" -- and that anyone who is outdoors should take extra precautions. The weather service said dangers include heat stroke and heat exhaustion and light, loose fitting clothing is recommended. Officials also advise you drink plenty of water.

The Town of Hempstead opened 15 cooling centers, and extended hours at six of its swimming pools Wednesday, and planned to do so again Thursday, when a decision will be made about Friday.

The cooling centers hosted 600 to 700 attendees, mostly seniors, up from the 300 to 400 seniors usually seen on any given summer day, said Kate Murray, town supervisor, who visited centers in Levittown and Valley Stream. About 10 people told her they were there because they have no air conditioning at home, she said.

Three cooling centers were opened Wednesday in Islip Town; two in Brookhaven Town; and two in Southold Town.

The county plans to open three cooling centers Thursday in Selden, Brentwood and Riverhead.

Lifeguard hours at Smith Point County Park, Shirley, were extended to 7 p.m., effective Wednesday through Friday, according to a release on the Suffolk County website.

 

Tips to keep your cool

* Place a cold compress or ice pack on your head or neck if you're working outside.

* Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes and avoid dark colors, which absorb heat.

* Sip water throughout the day; avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.

* Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day -- early morning and evening are the best times to be outside, when air quality is better and temperatures are cooler.

* If you're home, stay on the lower levels because heat rises. If you don't have air-conditioning, open your windows and turn on a fan.

Source: Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, chief medical officer, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola

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