NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A dangerous heat wave has gripped the New York area, sending the heat index in many places well above 100 degrees. A heat wave is considered at least three consecutive days of temperatures at 90 degrees or higher.
The National Weather Service issued several weather alerts for the tristate area, including an Excessive Heat Warning and a Heat Advisory for much of the area. The Excessive Heat Warning is in effect from Friday through Sunday night. The heat index values are expected to be around 110 degrees on Saturday and also on Sunday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio came off the campaign trail to spend the weekend in the city, telling residents to stay hydrated and out of the sun. De Blasio also issued an emergency declaration starting at 9 a.m. on Friday and ending at 8 p.m. on Sunday night. 500 public cooling centers have been set up across the five boroughs.
"This is probably the worst heat we've seen in a decade," de Blasio said.
The emergency declaration also requires all office buildings taller than 100 feet to crank their thermostats up to 78 degrees. The goal is to limit energy use and avoid a strain on the city's electrical grid.
Michael Clendenin, a spokesperson for Con Ed, insisted the beleaguered utility is ready for the heat.
"We're going to have 4,000 of our field forces and support personnel devoted just to handling the heatwave. This is gonna be essential to get on top of problems before they become bigger," Clendenin said.
Staff will monitor Con Ed substations and equipment and dispatch personnel to address any issues. Con Ed says last weekend's blackout had nothing to do with weather and will have no residual impact on this weekend.
"Our engineers identified the problem, addressed it, and now we're focused on the heatwave and the impact on the system," Clendenin said.
New York City's triathlon that was scheduled for Sunday was also canceled. Organizers say the suffocating humidity expected is just too dangerous for its athletes. 4,000 people were set to tackle the Olympic distance event.
WHAT IS AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING?
When the combination of heat and humidity makes the temperature feel 105 degrees or greater (the heat index value), the National Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Warning
"When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke," the National Weather Service said. "Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible, and drink plenty of water. Seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental health conditions are at increased risk."
July continues to be warmer than usual. The average temperate this time of year is 84 to 85 degrees. So far this July, the temperatures have averaged 2.8 degrees above normal. Humidity will also be on the rise all the way through the start of the following week.
New York City's cooling centers will be open through Sunday.
AIR QUALITY ALERTS
Environmental authorities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have issued air quality alerts due to the pollutant ozone for several counties for Friday.
New York declared an Air Quality Health Advisory due in the New York City and Long Island area.
New Jersey issued an Air Quality Action Day in the northeastern counties.
And Connecticut issued an Air Quality Action Day for several central and western counties.
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