Temperature Records Set to Break as Americans Swelter

PROMISED LAND, Pa. — It’s not exactly flowing with milk and honey — just ask the area’s struggling black bears — but Promised Land offered respite Sunday for city folks in the Northeast trying to escape a nearly weeklong hot spell that only threatened to intensify.

Those with the resources fled to pools, beaches and higher elevations like Promised Land State Park, at 1,800 feet (550 meters) in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and a drive of about 2 1/2 hours from New York City and Philadelphia.

More than 85 million Americans received excessive heat advisories and warnings from the National Weather Service, ranging from the Pacific Northwest through the Southern Great Plains to densely populated Interstate 95 corridor. The agency warned of “extremely oppressive” conditions from Washington to Boston.

Visitors said that even though temperatures in Promised Land were expected to rise above 90 degrees (32 Celsius), the conditions are more bearable with cool lakes, shade and mountains.

Rosa Chavez, a 47-year-old high school teacher from Manhattan applied sunscreen to a Promised Land Lake shoreline. She and friend Arlene Rodriguez, who accompanied her, had just experienced Europe’s own heat wave while vacationing last week in Florence, Italy.

Learn More The U.K.’s Hottest Ever Day Sparks a Climate Culture War

“The heat is following us,” said Rodriguez, 47, a real estate agent and property manager.

The weather service stated that many records highs would be set or broken in Northeast.

Before you even consider humidity, Philadelphia reached 99 degrees on Sunday. Newark, New Jersey saw the fifth consecutive day with 100 degree or more, an unprecedented streak of this kind since 1931, when records were first established. Boston reached 100 degrees today, exceeding the previous record of 98 degrees in 1933.

In the Northeast, at least two deaths from heat have been reported. Officials are warning that there may be more.

Philadelphia officials declared a heat emergency Monday night. They sent workers out to visit homeless persons and knock on doors for other residents in need. For people who need to cool down, the city opened four cooling centers and placed air-conditioned buses at four intersections.

Forecasters advised that people wear lightweight clothing and drink lots of fluids, to limit outdoor time and to check on their elderly relatives and pets.

Water pours on the children at the Geneva Water Battle Sunday July 24, 2022 at Memorial Field, Geneva, Ohio.

Warren Dillaway/The Star-Beacon via AP

Michelle Wu, the Boston mayor declared a heat crisis through Monday. She also kept 12 cooling centers open.

Some events had to be shortened, or even postponed. New York City Triathlon organized a shorter distance for athletes to bike and run. This weekend’s Boston Triathlon was put off until Aug. 20-21.

Forecasters on the West Coast warned that extreme heat could arrive early in the week, and continue until the weekend. The temperature could reach the highest point since the heat wave of last year, when hundreds died in the Pacific Northwest.

Many houses in this often-rainy area lack air conditioning. Authorities also cautioned about the likelihood of indoor heat buildup throughout the week. This could increase the chance of heat-related diseases. Boston’s emergency medicine officials warned the public.

Back in Promised Land, Chavez said she has asthma and needs to keep her inhaler around, especially “when the heat is so thick I can’t breathe.” The breezes and clearer air in the mountains help, she said.

Mhamed Boussa Boudjelthia (a Uber driver aged 31 from Queens) was cooking kebabs at the beach grill. It was already 80 degrees by midmorning. The hot city chaos had driven him and another Queens friend to safety.

“There, it’s really hot,” Boudjelthia said. “There’s too much humidity, too.”

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His friend, Kamel Mahiout, 35, agreed as he stood in a cooling breeze: “It’s crazy in New York City.”

Even lower elevations were experiencing heat that was worse than an hour away. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sunday’s high was expected to be 97, and not punching below 70 at night.

“That also leads to the danger. People aren’t getting that relief overnight,” said weather service forecaster Lily Chapman. “That stress on the body is kind of cumulative over time.”

According to her, the region has also been dryter than usual.

Many bear sightings have been reported by regular campers in Promised Land and residents of cabins. As streams dry, the animals wander neighborhoods and camp sites looking for food.

“Today’s hot,” said Alex Paez, 34, of Scranton, sitting under a shade canopy at the beach in Promised Land. “If you don’t need to be outside doing something productive, then stay in.”

This report was contributed by Jennifer Peltz, New York City Associated Press writer; Matthew Brown, Billings, Montana, Michael Hill, Albany, New York, Jennifer McDermott, Providence, Rhode Island, Curt Anderson, St. Petersburg Florida

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