All those prayers for hot summer weather have been answered, perhaps too well.
High temperatures and a spike in humidity are expected for the weekend, with the worst on Sunday, and will last right through the Fourth of July, forecasters say.
June temperatures had been averaging right around normal, but some areas could suddenly see official heat wave conditions, meaning three days in a row hitting 90 degrees or above.
Barbara Engels, 56, came to the Byron Lake Pool in Oakdale with her three grandkids to cool off Friday.
She said the whole family would take a dip in the pool, but she and the kids would probably leave later in the afternoon when temperatures rose.
“We haven’t had too much of a summer since summer began," said Engels, of Islip. "We’re facing a heat wave, but that is what summer should be. So, as long as we’re cautious and safe, it will kick off to a great summer.”
Although the combination of heat and humidity can make for great pool and beach weather, it could be dangerous for some residents, forecasters and officials say.
One day of heat and humidity would be bad enough, but by day three of 90 degree temperatures or above, there’s an increase in heat-related deaths, said Dr. Paul Pipia, chief medical officer and acting president of Nassau University Medical Center. Infants, young children and those over 65 can be especially susceptible, he said, with the issue compounded for those living on top floors, which get hotter, with no air conditioning.
A heat advisory has been issued for Nassau County for much of the weekend, and for Suffolk on Sunday.
Heat index values — the “feels like” temperatures — are expected in the upper 90s Saturday in Nassau, particularly for mid to late afternoon. Sunday could feel a few degrees hotter there, as high as 107 degrees in the afternoon, the National Weather Service said Friday afternoon. Suffolk temperatures could feel as high as around 100 degrees Sunday.
An air quality advisory was also in place for the weekend.
"Once the heat wave really gets going, residents across New York State can expect a heat index . . . to be over 100 degrees, with some regions hitting closer to 110 degrees," said Nick Basill, a research scientist with the New York State Mesonet at the State University of New York at Albany. The heat index represents what temperatures feel like when humidity is factored in.
This is why forecasters, health experts and public officials took steps Friday to warn Long Islanders that the upcoming tropical stretch requires caution and they should plan ahead to avoid heat-related illness.
Residents should stay indoors in air-conditioned places if possible and drink plenty of fluids, unless a doctor says otherwise. Frequent checks should be made on those more at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as the elderly and young children, especially babies, officials said. Those who must go outside should stay in the shade and restrict outdoor activity to the early morning and later evening, when it is cooler, Nassau University Medical Center said in a release.
Cooling centers opened across Nassau County starting Friday. Residents can contact the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management at 516-573-0636 for more information.
A PSEG Long Island spokesman said the utility was ready for the heat, with an additional 300 employees and contractors on standby through the weekend.
“We are prepared to meet the increased electrical demand that high temperatures bring," John O’Connell, PSEG Long Island's vice president of transmission and distribution, said in a statement Friday.
The Long Island Rail Road, meanwhile, will deploy heat patrol units to monitor track conditions, a spokeswoman said. Crews will be on standby Saturday and Sunday to respond if a problem is discovered, she said.
Jason Joiner took steps right out of the heat-safety playbook Friday.
Before taking his kids, 10 months old and 3 years old, to the pool in the afternoon, he kept them inside for the morning and made sure they drank water and ate.
"Once we came outside we made sure the kids had sunblock on, continued to drink water, eat properly and just not keeping them out in the sun too long," said Joiner, 34, of East Islip. “When it gets extremely hot like this especially with humidity on Long Island, it could be really dangerous for everybody, but especially for little kids who are smaller and could become dehydrated really easily.”
Long Island is no stranger to heat waves.
The last one recorded at Long Island MacArthur Airport was last year from July 20 to 22, when temperatures hit 92 degrees, 93 and 90.
Since records started being kept in September of 1963, the Island saw the most heat waves in 2002. There were three that year.
With Janelle Griffith
Tips for surviving the heat:
- Stay out of the heat. If possible, stay inside an air-conditioned place, whether it's a home, an indoor shopping mall or a cooling center, for example.
- Never leave anyone or any pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, caffeine and drinks that contain lots of sugar.
- Be in touch with your doctor: If your doctor limits the amount of water you drink or you are thinking about taking salt tablets, discuss with your physician first.
- Keep a close eye on the elderly, infants, young children and others at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. Make sure they drink plenty of liquids and stay out of the sun.
- Stay cool. Wearing loosefitting and light-colored clothing and take a cool bath or shower to cool your body temperature.
- If you have to be outside, stay in the shade and limit outdoor activity to when it is cooler: the early morning or later in the evening.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen outdoors.
- Use fans to help bring down temperatures, even if you have air conditioning.
- Keep shades and blinds drawn to keep out the sun's heat.
- Keep pets in a cool place and give them plenty of water.
- Cut down on exercise, but try to rest often and stay hydrated if you must exercise.
Sources: Nassau County Executive's Office, Nassau University Medical Center, PSEG Long Island