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Some workers find ways to keep cool

"It's like I have solid gold."

That's how Ralph Elio described the ice cubes he delivered Thursday to his Long Island customers.

"When it's this hot, everybody and their brother wants ice," said Elio, 49, standing Thursday afternoon in a refrigerated truck filled with 7-pound bags of ice cubes from Arctic Glacier, a Canadian company.

On a day when a record at Long Island MacArthur Airport was set at 95 degrees, he said he's having a hard time keeping up with the demand.

Demand for ice will probably continue Friday on Long Island, especially in central Nassau County and its North Shore, where temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s, said Joe Pollina, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

The three consecutive days of over-90-degree temperatures marks an official heat wave. A cold front arrives Friday afternoon, bringing showers and thunderstorms, with the greatest likelihood of storms after midnight, he said.

The high temperature at Upton Thursday was 92.8 degrees, just short of the record of 93 degrees set in 1988, which was also the previous record for Islip.

As of 7:16 p.m. Thursday, the Long Island Power Authority's website reported that 3,578 customers in Nassau County and 459 in Suffolk County were without power.

It was so hot yesterday that a section of the Long Island Expressway buckled about 3:20 p.m., forcing closure of the left and center westbound lanes east of Exit 68, officials said.

The New York Racing Association canceled Thursday afternoon's thoroughbred program at Belmont Park in Elmont because of "weather conditions," according to an agency news release.

While the horses took the day off, plenty of people were on the job, some in supercool workplaces.

At Barrett's Cool Spot in Lindenhurst, Bryant Powers, 19, wore a sweatshirt because he had to go into the walk-in refrigerator, kept at 34 degrees.

On winter days, this isn't his preferred work space; but Thursday, it was "perfect . . . I love going in here," he said.

Louis Montalbano, a butcher at Stop & Shop in East Meadow, said he figures the meat locker is kept at 40 to 45 degrees. It's "beautiful. You don't want to go out," said Montalbano, 60, of Amityville.

Of course, workers like John Gazzini, with Posillico construction in Farmingdale, were outdoors sweating.

Standing at a Farmingdale intersection as co-workers repaved a street, Gazzini, 69, of Huntington, said his team works from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Supervisors took cold drinks to their teams throughout the day, said Gazzini, who wore sunglasses, a hard hat and multiple layers of sunscreen.

He sipped on a Gatorade and optimistically noted that the heat is temporary. "Next week, it probably won't even get up to 70."

With Patricia Kitchen

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