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Heat warnings blanket much of country




Thursday, August 3, 2006; Posted: 12:52 p.m. EDT (16:52 GMT)


NEW YORK (AP) -- The sweltering heat that was confirmed in at least a dozen deaths in the East and Midwest this week was not unusual for Iman Arbab.


"For me, 100 degrees -- it's normal," said Arbab, 57, a native of Sudan who sells newspapers from a crate outside Penn Station in Manhattan.


But even he admitted he was getting a little fed up.


"When you're young, you don't feel it," Arbab said Thursday morning. "When you get old, you feel it."


After two days of triple-digit temperatures, the region was in for another day of steamy weather Thursday. (Watch to see what may follow the hottest seven months ever -- 1:44)


The heat wasn't expected to break until a cold front moves through overnight Thursday and pushes Friday temperatures down, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Morrin.


The weather service again posted heat warnings from Massachusetts to South Carolina and in parts of Oklahoma.


At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, sweat was already dripping down Alex Williams' forehead as he rolled a handtruck bearing a 175-pound beer keg off his un-airconditioned truck in Manhattan. The National Weather Service said the temperature was around 83, but with a "feels like" rating of 89.


"I drink lots of water -- but no beer," said Williams, of Brooklyn.


By midmorning, the mercury was at 90 in New York City, 92 in Philadelphia and Boston, and 97 in Richmond, Virginia. Baltimore was at 99. With the humidity, temperatures felt like 100 or higher.


Since Sunday, heat was confirmed to have played a role in at least 12 deaths in the Midwest and East, plus one in Oklahoma. At least eight deaths were suspected as being related to the heat.


In Illinois, at least six heat-related deaths were confirmed in Cook County since Sunday, and police believe that another six deaths in Chicago on Wednesday could be heat-related. Four deaths were reported in Maryland, including three elderly victims who did not have air conditioning, officials said.


A 15-year-old high school football player died Tuesday in Georgia, one day after collapsing at a practice. In Pennsylvania, a 74-year-old custodian was found dead in bed, his heart disease aggravated by the heat.


In Oklahoma, authorities said a 92-year-old man found near his car Tuesday died of heat-related causes.


The suspected deaths included an 18-month-old boy who was found dead Wednesday in a van in Kentucky and a 50-year-old construction worker who collapsed in Michigan Wednesday.


A heat wave was blamed for as many as 164 deaths last month in California, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that he asked the federal government for loans to farmers who suffered more than $1 billion in losses.


Wednesday's high hit a record-breaking 102 at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The mercury hit 99 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Baltimore and Philadelphia each climbed into the upper 90s.


Even on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, usually a haven during the steamiest weather, residents were baking. "The water just pours off of you," said Carla Sullivan, the dockmaster at Hyannis Marina. "This is Texas hot."


Utility officials urged people to resist cranking up air conditioners amid heavy electric demand. Consolidated Edison, the utility that serves customers in and around New York City, set its second record in two days for peak demand.


On Thursday morning, Con Ed said it had underground electrical problems on Manhattan's East side that left about 5,600 customers -- roughly 22,400 people -- without power in and around New York City. On Long Island, LIPA had almost 12,000 people without power early Thursday.

Concern for homeless, concert-goers, animals


In Queens, some residents found themselves in the dark again after recovering from a 10-day outage in late July. That included grocer Salm Ali, who said he had to throw out $17,000 worth of produce last time.


Some Massachusetts residents were thrown into the dark Wednesday night because of thunderstorms, while in Stamford, Connecticut, Connecticut Light & Power cut electricity to some downtown businesses after two circuits failed.


In New York City, teams patrolled the streets, looking for homeless people and encouraging them to head to air-conditioned drop-in centers, carrying water and checking for dehydration. Officials in Washington also were going door-to-door to get people to go to cooling centers, said Mark Brown, deputy director of the city's Emergency Management Agency.


As a precaution, the Dixie Chicks postponed an outdoor concert at Jones Beach Amphitheater on Long Island. In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, about 40 people attending a Warped Tour outdoor concert were taken to a hospital and treated for dehydration.


Nearly three dozen New York-area children and an adult returning from a trip to Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, were treated for heat-related illnesses when air conditioners malfunctioned on buses, said John Bate, emergency management director for Hellertown.


In Boston, animals at the Franklin Park Zoo were kept cool with sprinklers and frozen treats. The African wild dogs and lions got frozen blood; the primates received frozen fruit juice.


"It's a matter of taste, I guess," zoo president John Linehan said.


The heat wasn't terrible for everyone, however.


Costas Katemis, a fruit vendor outside Boston's South Station, was drenched in sweat as he handled brisk sales of peaches, plums and nectarines. But he didn't mind.


"I've been here when it's been 10 below zero, and the fruit actually freezes, so this weather is no problem," he said.






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