NYC and DC Face Power Outages, Water Restrictions in Soaring Heat

By by Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer
July 21, 2013, 7:23:16 AM EDT

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The news stories titled "Severe Storms to End Northeast, Ohio Valley Heat Wave" and "New York City's Electric Usage Sets All-Time Record" have the latest information on the impacts and upcoming relief from the heat wave in the East.


"[Friday's] brutal heat and humidity led to all-time peak electric usage records in New York City and Westchester County," New York's largest energy provider Con Edison stated on their website, after urging customers to make conservation efforts as intense heat continues through Saturday.

On Thursday, every state except for Alaska soared to 90 degrees or higher.

The East, enduring its fourth heat wave of the summer, felt temperatures well into the 90s with RealFeel® temperatures of 105 to 110 degrees in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Major cities have braced for typical urban heat dilemmas such as power outages and mass transit delays.

During heat waves, power loss is common as energy usage skyrockets with cranked up air conditioners, constantly running ceiling and oscillating fans and appliances like refrigerators and freezers working harder to stay cool.

Downtown urban areas often suffer the worst as they lack permeable surfaces such as open land and vegetation and are instead plagued by concrete and infrastructure. This creates a phenomenon called an urban heat island effect.

The annual mean air temperature of a city with one million people or more can be anywhere from 1.8 degrees to 5.4 degrees F warmer than its surroundings, the EPA reports.

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Power crews at companies such as Con Edison have been working 12-hour shifts pulling cables, replacing fuses and helping to restore power to thousands experiencing outages in the metropolitan area.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of New York was reporting few delays Thursday, despite warning that heat waves can result in power cuts and slower trains.

An influx of the "age-old query" regarding when MTA will invest in air conditioned subway stations prompted a press release from the group Tuesday.

"We really can't say," they wrote. "…Open at both ends as they are, trying to air condition subway platforms would be like trying to air condition an infinite space."

Residents of Washington, D.C., faced their own share of problems earlier this week, as 130,000 customers in Prince George's County are under mandatory water restrictions while repairs are made to a water main.

Such restrictions were lifted on Friday, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission stated on their website, as the water main has been fixed and returned to service.

Temperatures in the East are forecast to fall by the end of the weekend, putting the end in sight for those desperate for relief.

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