Brutal heat is pressing down on much of the United States this weekend, with nearly 96 million Americans sweltering under heat advisories or warnings and heat indexes in the Northeast soaring into the triple digits.
More than 30 National Weather Service stations may approach or exceed record temperatures by Sunday, the NWS Weather Prediction Center said Friday. High humidity is pushing heat indexes — the temperature that the air feels like — above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, an about-face from the Northeast’s relatively temperate start to the summer.
“The ‘Dog Days of Summer,’ ” the Weather Prediction Center said, “are unquestionably here.”
The extreme heat, expected to continue through early next week, is another warning sign that climate change is increasingly imperiling what traditionally is a time associated with relaxing summer vacations. Temperatures are rising, wildfires are becoming more severe and droughts are becoming more common — a striking change from previous generations, scientists say.
Summer in America is becoming hotter, longer and more dangerous
In some cities, this weekend’s extreme heat caused major events to be altered over safety concerns. The Boston Triathlon originally scheduled for Sunday was postponed to late August “due to the current Heat Emergency.” While New York City’s triathlon and duathlon are still scheduled to take place Sunday, organizers announced they had shortened the bicycling and running segments of the competition.
“The safety of our athletes and everyone in attendance is our top priority,” New York City Triathlon organizers said.
New York officials converted public spaces to cooling centers and offered spray caps for fire hydrants, which are meant to lessen the amount of water released if people open the hydrants to stay cool. The city’s Weather Service station said the next two days would be the area’s “hottest weekend of the year so far” and warned that temperatures would climb into the 90s and could feel even higher.
If New York’s heat wave lasts through Monday, it would match a similar seven-day heat wave in 2013, when heat indexes reached at least 95 degrees each day.
Boston was set to experience temperatures in the high 80s to high 90s Saturday, with “comfortable” humidity levels. But the Weather Service warned of more oppressive heat conditions for Sunday, with heat index values up to 105 degrees.
Excessive heat can be dangerous, making it hard for the body to cool itself and potentially causing a rapid pulse, nausea or loss of consciousness. The unsafe temperatures are forcing people up and down the Atlantic coast to figure out how to protect themselves.
What extreme heat does to the human body
Susan Driscoll, 58, said she has been going on runs earlier than usual to avoid Boston’s heat. The photographer and personal trainer captured an image of the sunrise at Paul Revere Park on Saturday morning.
“Miles have been down and pace has been down,” because of the heat, she said, adding that she is “listening to her body” this weekend.
“I didn’t have any races or anything on the agenda, thank goodness, because I might have gone out and walked it,” Driscoll said.
In Philadelphia, where the heat index could reach the low to mid-100s on Sunday, the fire department implored residents not to use fire hydrants to cool off — warning that opening the hydrants could damage them and nearby property and people. It encouraged residents to find public pools and spray parks, instead.
The District of Columbia is preparing for temperatures to potentially reach triple digits for the first time since 2016. Temperatures there already felt like the mid-90s on Saturday morning and were continuing to rise, The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported. In response, the city extended operating hours at public pools, opened cooling centers and expanded the number of beds in its homeless shelters to offer people a cool place to sleep.
The heat wave is particularly challenging for some residents in the Northeast, where air conditioning is not as ubiquitous as it is in other parts of the country.
Lauren Kinsley said she has been working from her Manhattan home over the past few days to avoid the heat.
“I just have one air conditioner in my apartment — one window unit — but I’m trying to keep costs down,” said Kinsley, 32, who works in fundraising. “So it’s just been sweltering in my apartment basically this whole week, and right now I just went outside to get coffee. And I came back drenched.”
Kinsley said she is planning to go see “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” at a movie theater this weekend, in part because it means she’ll be in an air-conditioned space.
“But you have to brave the heat to get there,” she said, adding she is holding off on running errands until the weather cools down.