It was hot last week.
Yes, it’s true we expect 90-degree weather in New York in July, but to have it for seven-straight days is something the city hasn’t seen in over a decade, and despite being near the cool ocean, Queens bore a significant brunt of it.
The week-long heat wave — defined by meteorologists as three or more days with high temperatures over 90 degrees — began last Sunday July 14 and peaked Friday morning when the overnight low was a balmy 86 degrees at LaGuardia Airport. The high temperatures for both Thursday and Friday hit 100 degrees. That’s warmer than the 98-degree high and 83-degree low recorded in Central Park. It finally broke over the weekend as temperatures dropped into the mid 80s.
The heat wave was the longest stretch of 90-degree days since August 2002 — though two back-to-back four-day heat waves in July 2011 were separated by one day where the high reached 88 degrees.
Although most people see the hot weather as a good excuse to play hookie from work, go to the beach, wade in a pool or stay inside in the air conditioning and watch a movie, heat waves can be deadly.
A seven-day-long heat wave in Chicago in 1995 killed 750 people, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in American history. Most of the fatalities were poor elderly residents in high-crime neighborhoods who didn’t have air conditioner, and did not want to open their windows.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, said four people died in last week’s heat wave citywide as a result of the weather. One other person died from a short heat wave earlier this month.
Most at risk during the hot weather are the elderly, children and those with respiratory illness, but anybody — even someone in good health — can quickly be overtaken by heat stroke.
To prevent heat-related illness, stay out of the sun as much as possible, wear loose, light-colored clothing and keep hydrated. If you have any health issues already, it might be best to just stay inside in the air conditioning.
Those cranked-up ACs last week helped set a new record for energy usage by Con Edison customers on Friday, reaching a peak of 13,214 megawatts at 2 p.m. The previous all-time peak record was 13,189 MW set on July 22, 2011, which was the second-hottest day in New York City history with a high temperature of 104 degrees.
“Con Edison continues to urge customers to conserve energy as best as possible,” the utility company said in a statement Friday. “Meanwhile, Con Edison crews continue to work tirelessly in the intense heat conditions to restore customers impacted by scattered power outages.”
One of those outages was in Fresh Meadows last Friday, when more than 1,800 customers were left in the dark for several hours.
If you think this seven-day heat wave was long, keep in mind that it could be a lot worse. New York City’s longest streak of 90 degree days was 12 days back in 1953.
And that happened in late August.
There’s still a lot of summer left, so stay cool.