Nicholas Goldstein, 8 left, of East Meadow, and his friend,...

Nicholas Goldstein, 8 left, of East Meadow, and his friend, Emilio Ramirez, 9, also of East Meadow, keep cool at Veterans Memorial Park in East Meadow. (June 20, 2012) Credit: Chris Ware

Records melted Thursday on Long Island.

The temperature reached 95 degrees at Long Island MacArthur Airport just before 4 p.m. Thursday, knocking down the prior record of 93 degrees, set at the airport in 1988.

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

The high temperature means more people cranking up the air conditioning, putting stress on the power system and prompting the Long Island Power Authority to scramble to repair outages throughout the day.

As of 3:30 p.m., LIPA was reporting 665 customers without power in Suffolk County and 1,290 in Nassau County, 946 of them in Levittown.

As of 11 p.m. Thursday, LIPA was reporting 418 customers without power in Suffolk County and 497 in Nassau County.

LIPA has 1,092,963 customers in Nassau and Suffolk. Highest usage usually comes in the 4 to 7 p.m. range, a spokesman said.

All this heat comes one day after Long Island muddled through a first-day-of-summer scorcher that was only slightly cooler than Thursday.

And, with temperatures expected to remain in the 90s Friday before a cold front hits and brings a good chance of cooler weather -- along with rain -- meteorologist Lauren Nash said we could have our first heat wave of the season.

A heat wave is a stretch of three or more consecutive days of 90-degree weather.

The potential heat wave began Wednesday, when the thermometer registered 91 degrees at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma by early afternoon.

In Upton, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the temperature tied the record of 93 degrees set in 1995. It was 94 degrees in Central Park, 4 degrees shy of a record set back in 1923.

A heat advisory issued Thursday for western Suffolk and Nassau County had been lifted as of 7 p.m., according to the weather service.

A heat advisory is issued when a combination of heat and humidity makes it feel like it's at least 100 degrees.

It was hot enough that the New York Racing Association canceled Thursday afternoon's thoroughbred program at Belmont Park in Elmont because of "weather conditions," according to a news release by the agency.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and State Department of Health also has issued an air quality alert for Nassau, Suffolk and Queens. An alert is issued when pollution levels are elevated, making breathing difficult -- especially for senior citizens, the young and those suffering with respiratory problems such as asthma. Experts are warning those affected to minimize time spent outdoors on Thursday. The alert was in effect until 11 p.m.

The buckling problems westbound around LIE exit 68 were fixed Thursday night, but state workers were still working late Thursday night on a buckling problem westbound around exit 67 at the Yaphank Avenue overpass where two lanes were closed to traffic, Sheriff's deputy's said.

An air quality health advisory was issued for Friday, effective from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m.

Cooling centers were opened all over Long Island to accommodate residents hoping to beat the heat.

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.

-- With Bill Mason

Tips to keep your cool

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

* Wear lightweight, loosefitting 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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