Worst of the Heat Now Gripping Major Cities of Northeast

July 22, 2011; 8:42 AM ET
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Louis Tellier, 7, from France, sticks his head in a fountain to cool down in New York, Thursday, July 21, 2011. Hot weather that has plagued the Plains for days spread eastward Thursday, blanketing several more states under a sizzling sun and excessive heat warnings that made people sick, shut down summer schools and spurred cities to offer cooling centers and free swimming. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

"With the number of days of extreme heat and humidity... it may be more significant and impact a larger area than the deadly 1995 heat wave"


Major heat that has been smothering major metropolises across the Midwest this week is now in full swing along the East's I-95 corridor.

The heat wave will peak today for the major cities of the Northeast with highs hitting or even surpassing the 100-degree mark in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Highs will challenge long-standing records. Philadelphia is likely to break the 54-year old record of 100°, which was set in 1957.

With humidity factored in over a large swath of real estate across the mid-Atlantic, AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures will climb to 110-118° during the hottest hours of the afternoon.

"The worst part of this heat wave is that lows at night will only drop into the 80s due to the extremely high humidity," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

"This means there will be no time for people to cool off," Margusity added.

The long duration and persistence of the severe heat and oppressive humidity will add extra stress, especially for those without air conditioning.

It can easily feel as hot as 100 degrees in a city building without air conditioning during a long-duration heat wave. The AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperature of the inside of a building reaching 90° with a dew point of 72° and no wind would be 100°.

A dew point temperature of 70° is often given as the threshold of very uncomfortable. Today, dew point temperatures are already 75° or higher from Washington, D.C., to New York City.

Many states of the U.S. have been suffering the grips of this dangerous heat wave for days with the core of heat over the Plains. Meteorologist Heather Buchman wrote early Wednesday that at least 17-states hit 100° on Tuesday! Some cities such as Minneapolis have set new all-time record high dew points.

"When all is said and done, with the number of days of extreme heat and humidity of the current heat wave, it may be more significant and impact a larger area than the deadly 1995 heat wave of July 12-15," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

Chicago was "ground zero" for the deadly 1995 heat wave. The death toll in the Windy City was 750 for the entire heat wave.

The elderly, young children and those with illnesses are most susceptible to heat-related illnesses and death. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to check on elderly and pets during heat waves like this current one.

Heat of this severity is not just impacting the health of people and animals. Roads and sidewalks across many cities and towns from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania have been buckling due to the high temperatures.

Highs are forecast to be in the 90s through the middle of next week in cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

One piece of good news is that a slow-moving cold front will slowly clear the major cities of the Northeast by the end of the weekend, cutting back at the most extreme heat and humidity. The relief will more noticeably at night when lows fall off into the mid- to lower 70s.

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