Heatwave broils eastern, central U.S., utilities poised for demand

Visitors from Chile, Emilia Aguirre, 14, Beatriz Catalan, 14, and Magdalena Chahuan, 15, walk during a hot day in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A massive heat wave that has enveloped the U.S. Midwest pushed into the Northeast on Friday, ushering in temperatures that could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38°C) in Washington, D.C., and leading utilities to take steps to prevent power outages.

The huge blob of warm air is likely to blanket the region, home to a third of the U.S. population, through Sunday with little overnight relief, said meteorologist David Roth of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“There are 124 million people under a heat advisory or excessive heat warning – that’s a third of the population,” Roth said.

As of Friday, the heatwave sprawled from Kansas to the Atlantic Coast, and from South Carolina north to Maine. It was expected to intensify on Saturday and Sunday.

Utilities in the eastern half of the United States expect to have enough resources to meet power demand on Friday but asked consumers to turn down air conditioners to avoid putting stress on the system, which could cause outages.

“I’m very confident,” Consolidated Edison Inc President Tim Cawley said when asked at a press conference in New York, if the utility, which serves New York City, could quickly respond to any outages in the country’s largest city. He said 4,000 employees were poised to work 12-hour shifts over the weekend.

On Saturday, parts of Manhattan lost power for hours, darkening Broadway theaters and closing restaurants and shops in a partial blackout blamed on a faulty piece of equipment.

There were no major outages Friday morning anywhere in the United States, according to the PowerOutage.US website.

Temperatures on Friday were forecast to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington, 97 degrees F in Philadelphia and 91 degrees F in New York, where it would feel more like 110 degrees F with high humidity, Roth said.

The dangers posed by extreme heat and humidity prompted officials to scrap outdoor competitions, including Saturday’s horse races at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and Sunday’s New York City Triathlon.

To keep cool during past heat waves, suburban children typically run under lawn sprinklers and city kids frolic in the spray of fire hydrants but the New York City Fire Department warned special spray caps that firehouses hand out should be used to avoid creating a hazard.

“If you open a fire hydrant without these caps, you endanger your neighbors because the water pressure drops and our firefighters are not able to fight fires,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on social media.

(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino and Henry Nichols in New York; Editing by Bill Trott and Marguerita Choy)

Heatwave blankets Japan, kills 14 people over long weekend

FILE PHOTO: A volunteer, for recovery work, wipes his sweat as he takes a break in a heat wave at a flood affected area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – An intense heatwave killed at least 14 people over a three-day long weekend in Japan, media reported on Tuesday, and high temperatures hampered the recovery in flood-hit areas where more than 200 people died last week.

Temperatures on Monday, a national holiday, surged above 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) in some inland areas and combined with high humidity to produce dangerous conditions, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

At least 14 people died from the heat over the long weekend, media reports said, including a woman in her 90s who was found unconscious in a field. Thousands more were treated in hospitals for heat-related conditions.

The heat was most intense in landlocked areas such as Gifu prefecture, where it soared to 39.3 Celsius (102.7 F) in the town of Ibigawa on Monday – the hottest in the nation. The capital Tokyo recorded a high of 34 Celsius on Monday.

Temperatures in parts of western Japan hit by deadly floods reached a high of 34.3 Celsius by midday on Tuesday, creating dangerous conditions for military personnel and volunteers clearing mud and debris.

“It’s really hot. All we can do is keep drinking water,” one man in Okayama told NHK television.

Temperatures of 35 or above – known in Japanese as “intensely hot days” – were recorded at 200 locations around Japan on Sunday, the JMA said, which is unusual for July but not unprecedented.

Similar scorching temperatures were reported from 213 locations on a July day in 2014.

Last year, 48 people died from heat between May and September, with 31 deaths in July, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The current heatwave was due to the layering of two high pressure systems over much of Japan and is expected to continue for the rest of the week if not longer, the JMA said.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Darren Schuettler)