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Long Islanders take extreme heat head-on, hit the beaches

Many local residents decided to spend the day at Jones Beach State Park, hoping for a respite from the high temperatures and humidity.   (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

This story was reported by John Asbury, Khristopher Brooks, Patricia Kitchen, David Olson, Antonio Planas, Jean-Paul Salamanca and Rachel Uda. It was written by Olson.

Long Islanders are bracing for another day of extreme heat Sunday, after the hottest day in nearly three years Saturday led to packed beaches and surging air conditioner use.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a Sunday high of 95 degrees at Long Island MacArthur Airport, two degrees lower than Saturday's high of 97.

“It’s still going to be hot either way,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Faye Morrone on Saturday afternoon.

An excessive heat warning — in effect when heat indexes of at least 105 degrees are forecast — runs through 8 p.m. Sunday.

The heat index, which factors in humidity, soared to 112 early Saturday afternoon and is expected to reach 106 on Sunday. There also is another air-quality alert Sunday because of expected high levels of ozone.

Several people were treated at Long Island hospitals for heat-related problems, hospital officials said — including three at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. One of the LIJ patients was released; the other two were still in the hospital late Saturday, a hospital system spokeswoman said.

In Patchogue, organizers of the Great South Bay Music Festival in Shorefront Park tried to make concertgoers more comfortable Saturday by renting giant fans, placing misting loops at park bridges, passing out free bottles of water, and allowing people to bring in coolers full of cold drinks, said festival founder Jim Faith. He also called for emergency medical professionals to be on-site.

Festivalgoers used their own techniques to stay cool. Men went shirtless with shorts; women wore sundresses with brimmed hats.

“My strategy is that I dressed appropriately,” said Sound Beach resident Patricia Johnston, who wore hot-pink short shorts and a black tank top while sipping a raspberry iced tea. “I came to terms with the fact that it was going to be hot. I should have put on sunscreen.”

Caroline Moore of Oakdale applied two layers of sunscreen just before entering the festival. “I put this on, but I think I’m already sunburned,” she said. “I’m also trying to sit in the shade as much as possible.”

Relief at the beach

In Long Beach, Robin Jackson’s strategy to cope with the weather Saturday was simple: Relax and swim in the ocean.

“We plan to do nothing,” Jackson, 56, of Staten Island, said of her plans with an Amityville friend on Saturday. “That’s how you beat the heat.”

At Jones Beach State Park, Mitch Altman cooled off with an ocean swim.

"It’s the perfect temperature by the water,” said Altman, 65, of Jamaica Estates, Queens, as he dried off.

A gentle breeze and a mist kicked up by the waves helped cool the thousands of beachgoers who crowded near the water at Jones Beach. Many sunbathed, and others rested under large umbrellas while children ran into the surf or buried themselves in the sand.

At Sunken Meadow State Park on the North Shore, the sun-scorched boardwalk was empty Saturday afternoon, while hundreds frolicked in the water.

Leri Loo, 37, and his wife, Jenny Loo, 40, of Elmont, sat on chairs under umbrellas on the beach while daughter Lian, 8, played in the sand.

“Near the water, there is wind and if you’re in the shade, it’s not bad,” said Leri Loo, who was eating from a plate filled with cold pineapple, watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. “If you get too hot, you can go in the water.”

A few hundred feet down the beach, Lucy Pack, 30, was sitting in the cool water near the shore as daughter Jemma, 2, dug up sand with a red plastic shovel.

She, Jemma, son Jacob, 7, and husband Shawn, of Smithtown, went to the beach rather than stay in their air-conditioned home because “it’s a little more festive, a little more like summertime here. And it’s much more active.”

Their one regret? “We definitely wish we would have brought an umbrella,” she said.

PSEG: System holding up

Saturday’s 97-degree high tied the record for the day at MacArthur that was set in 1991, and it was the highest temperature since Aug. 14, 2016.

Sunday’s expected high of 95 would fall short of the 101-degree record for the day set in 1991. But the current record for the warmest overnight low on July 21, 76 degrees in 1980, may be broken. The weather service is predicting a low of 80 degrees around sunrise.

PSEG Long Island on Sunday again will have hundreds of additional workers on duty to respond to potential outages caused by equipment overloaded by heavy air conditioner use and other heat-related problems, said Elizabeth Flagler, a spokeswoman for the utility.

“They will be on until after midnight and into the morning,” and then all day Sunday, Flagler said.

As of just before 6 p.m. Saturday, 7,635 PSEG customers had lost power, with electricity for more than 5,400 restored, she said.

With only a fraction of the utility’s 1.1 million customers temporarily losing power, “the system is holding up as expected,” Flagler said.

Too hot for ice cream?

For some, it was too hot Saturday even for ice cream.

While the heat is usually an instant draw for ice cream parlors, some businesses say if it’s too hot, potential customers just stay indoors.

At Frozen Cow Ices and Ice Cream in Lido Beach, ice cream maker Jerry Crabbs said the business depends on Uber food deliveries to pick up when foot traffic slows down.

“Hot weather is good, but when it’s too hot it’s quiet," he said.

The weather canceled plans.

Iglesia Nueva Vida Internacional in Woodside, Queens, was expecting fewer people than usual at its annual picnic at Sunken Meadow Saturday — 150 to 200 rather than the typical 300-plus — in part because of the heat, said Pastor Orlando Galeano.

At least several dozen people who signed up for the annual Soldier Ride of the Hamptons in East Hampton didn’t show up, probably because of the heat, said event organizer Tony Ganga.

But the weather didn’t keep about 420 bicyclists from participating in the 25-mile bike ride from Amagansett through Sag Harbor and back. The event is sponsored by The Wounded Warrior Project.

Event volunteers tried to keep riders cool with several midsized fans and water-misting devices.

Matt Stamm, 29, is from Denmark, where he is used to much cooler temperatures.

“We’re from Europe and wanted to escape the heat, but I’m not sure we’re succeeding,” Stamm said in Long Beach. “It never gets as hot as here. We were expected to be hot, not expecting it to be like this and with the humidity.”

Some, like Veronica Espino, 40, of Baldwin, were unfazed by the heat. She said she runs three times a week regardless of the temperature, and on Saturday, she donned a sweatshirt as she ran down the Long Beach boardwalk.

“It still keeps you fresh," Espino said.

At the Nueva Vida picnic, Deyanira Delgado, 60, was smiling as she peeled plantains for the traditional Colombian soup sancocho.

“I love the heat,” Delgado, a Colombian immigrant living in Richmond Hill, Queens, said in Spanish. “I was born in the tierra caliente. It’s in my veins.”

Proceed with caution

Yet the combination of heat and humidity can be dangerous for some, medical officials warn — especially for children, seniors and those with chronic medical conditions.

The Nassau County Police Department advises residents to drink a lot of water and other liquids, take cool baths or showers, and wear loosefitting clothing in lighter colors. Take advantage of air-conditioned buildings and, if you’re outside, stay out of the direct sun when possible. Try to limit activity to early morning or late evening. Never lock animals in a car, even for a few minutes, and keep their water dishes full.

You should avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, because they can dehydrate the body.

Lou Peragine wasn’t ready to totally avoid alcohol. But as Peragine, of the Lindenhurst-based tribute band Bro Country, tailgated in the Field 5 parking lot before the Florida Georgia Line concert at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, he said the key to surviving the heat is staying hydrated and pacing yourself.

“Usually for one drink of alcohol, I’ll drink a bottle of water,” he said. “But with this heat, I’d say three [waters] to one’s a good rule.”

 

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