An oppressive combination of extreme heat, insufferable humidity and poor air quality had Long Islanders seeking relief wherever possible Thursday — at pools, beaches, water parks and cooling centers — with more of the same in Friday's forecast.
Temperatures in Islip hit 86 degrees Thursday but the heat index, which factors in relative humidity, made it feel closer to 97 degrees, said Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.
And while those numbers were slightly less than what was originally projected, making venturing outdoors somewhat bearable, Long Islanders may not be so lucky Friday. Temperatures are expected to rise into the lower 90s with the heat index topping out in the triple digits. Long Islanders are also urged to limit strenuous outdoor activities Friday because of the heat and another day of predicted bad air quality.
In response to the heat, PSEG Long Island announced it was activating a voluntary program Friday aimed at giving customers a financial break if they use less power, an effort to reduce overloading its system.
TIPS ON STAYING COOL
- Stay hydrated with water and avoid away from sugary drinks.
- Limit outdoor activity. If you don't have air conditioning, go to a cooling center or an indoor public place such as a shopping mall or library.
- Keep pets out of the hot sun and provide unlimited fresh water.
- Dial 911 immediately if someone is not sweating, their mental status is altered, and their skin is red, hot and dry. They could be experiencing heatstroke.
- Check on elderly neighbors, who are vulnerable to extreme heat.
"It's going to be the hottest day of the year tomorrow," Ramunni said, noting that Saturday's forecast calls for more heat and humidity.
On Thursday, residents looked to cool off in the water or in the comfort of air conditioning indoors.
At Kennedy Park Pool in the Village of Hempstead, there was no complaints about the heat from the swimmers, said lifeguard Karima Tonge.
"It’s nice that our community has an outlet for our young people [and] our adults to come in and cool off during this heat wave” Tonge said.
While Long Islanders flocked en masse to area beaches, splash pads or water parks for relief from the heat, Yilmaz Keles, a gas station attendant at the BP station in East Meadow, was taking the forecast in stride.
"The heat?" asked Keles, who is originally from Turkey, with a chuckle. "What heat?" The high next week could hit 98 degrees in Turkey's capital city, Ankara, according to various weather forecasts.
Meanwhile, an air quality alert, which was in effect Wednesday and Thursday for Long Island, New York City, Westchester and Rockland counties, was extended through Friday because of ozone pollution concerns related to the heat, state officials said.
In a Thursday evening advisory, the National Weather Service warned Long Islanders, especially young children, seniors and those with preexisting respiratory or heart problems, to limit strenuous outdoor activity Friday.
Heat-related illnesses — heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion — are all possible with prolonged exposure and outdoor activities, or even “likely” if the index moves above 103, according to the weather service.
"Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities," the advisory stated.
For PSEG Long Island customers, the heat wave could lead to lower bills. The utility activated the voluntary Smart Savers Thermostat program for Friday to reduce system overload.
The homes of the nearly 35,000 enrolled customers with smart thermostats will be precooled at 3:30 p.m. Friday by 3 degrees for 30 minutes, utility officials said. The customer's thermostats will then be raised by four degrees from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. In exchange, these customers receive financial incentives for their participation.
"Customers enrolled in this program save money, and are also helping everyone in the service area by allowing us to reduce the overall peak demand on some of the hottest days," said Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewable energy for PSEG Long Island.
The utility said it has no capacity concerns and expects to have the power required to meet customer demand.
FRIDAY COOLING CENTER LOCATIONS
The Town of Oyster Bay
Cooling centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center, 1001 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, and the Town of Oyster Bay Hicksville Athletic Center, 167 S. Broadway, Hicksville.
Community pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Marjorie Post Community Park, 451 Unqua Rd., Massapequa; Syosset-Woodbury Community Park, 7800 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury; Bethpage Community Park, 1001 Stewart Ave., Bethpage; Plainview-Old Bethpage Community Park, 175 Washington Ave., Plainview; and at Tappen Beach, Shore Road, Glenwood Landing.
Swimming at town beaches, including Tobay Beach and Spray Park, will remain open until 7 p.m.
Town of Hempstead
Beach hours have been extended to 7 p.m. and all town pool hours until 8 p.m. through Saturday. Cooling centers will operate out of town senior centers from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the following schedule:
Friday: Baldwin, Green Acres, Oceanside and Wantagh, as well as the Bellmore Senior Center, 2000 Bellmore Ave., Bellmore, and the Levittown Senior Center, 555 N. Newbridge Rd., Levittown.
Town of Huntington
Cooling centers will operate at the Dix Hills Ice Rink, 575 Vanderbilt Pkwy., Dix Hills, from noon to 8 p.m. and the Town of Huntington Senior Center (Flanagan Center) 423 Park Ave, Huntington, until 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Crab Meadow, West Neck, Hobart and Centerport Beaches will be open with stationed lifeguards until 8 p.m.
The Dix Hills Pool will be open to Huntington Town residents from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Both Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park, located on Cuba Hill Road in Elwood, and the Manor Field Spray Park on East Fifth Street, Huntington Station will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The spray parks open at 10 a.m. for children with special needs.