People cool off at Pier 45 on Saturday, July 20, 2019 in New York. Temperatures in the high 90s are forecast for Saturday and Sunday with a heat index well over 100. Much of the nation is also dealing with high heat. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve

July 21, 2019 - 3:03 pm

BOSTON (AP) — The East Coast on Sunday sweated through another day of heat and humidity in a stretch of weather so oppressive that a New Jersey drawbridge got stuck, Pennsylvania firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion and police departments from New York City to suburban Boston implored residents to take it easy.

"Sunday has been canceled," the NYPD jokingly tweeted . "Stay indoors, nothing to see here. Really, we got this."

The central part of the country, meanwhile, enjoyed some relief as a cold front moved steadily southward and eastward across the country, bringing down the temperatures. But the cooler weather settling in Monday and Tuesday will also bring severe storms and heavy rain that could cause flash flooding and produce damaging winds, the National Weather Service warned.

The Carolinas up to Maine were expected to see the highest temperatures Sunday. Daytime highs were expected in the mid-to-upper 90s, which, coupled with high humidity, could feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius).

Jack Ogten was among a steady stream of tourists milling around outside the White House on Sunday. Undeterred by the stifling heat, the resident of the Netherlands joked that he'd lost about 22 pounds (10 kilograms) from sweating after just one day of sightseeing.

"The weather's been ridiculously hot," Washington, D.C., bus driver Ramieka Darby remarked while a taking quick break amid temperatures of nearly 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius). "There's no point being out."

In New York City, where all eyes were on the power grid even before the hot weather following a Manhattan blackout last weekend, electricity company Con Ed reported scattered outages Sunday, the vast majority in the borough of Queens.

The city also directed office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees (26 degrees Celsius) through Sunday to reduce strain on its electrical grid. A commemoration of the 1969 moon landing planned for Times Square and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe and musician John Legend were also nixed due to the heat Saturday.

In Boston, city officials again opened up city pools free to residents as the temperature inched past 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) for the third consecutive day by noon Sunday. Police in one suburb also posted a tongue-in-cheek request on their Facebook page.

"Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday," Braintree police wrote Friday. "Conducting criminal activity, in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous."

In Philadelphia, several hundred people were evacuated from a retirement community Saturday because of a partial power outage that officials say may have been heat-related.

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, nine firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and six transported to a hospital for treatment while fighting a house fire in sweltering conditions. The Strinestown Fire Company said all of the firefighters were released by the time Saturday's Conewago Township blaze was extinguished.

In New Hampshire, rescue crews helped a 29-year-old hiker late Saturday after he was overcome by the heat in the White Mountain National Forest.

In New Jersey, the Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River was closed Saturday evening after it got stuck open. Monmouth County officials say heat caused expansion of the metal encasing the drawbridge, which is a popular route for residents and beachgoers.

The heat even prompted Delaware officials to close Fort Delaware State Park, which served as a Union prison camp during the Civil War. Temperatures were simply too high for costumed interpreters who wear wool garb this weekend, officials said.

The National Weather Service reported high temperatures for July 20 were recorded Saturday at its weather stations in Atlantic City, New Jersey, New York City, Westfield, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Wallops Island, Virginia.

The heat relented early Sunday in the northern reaches of New England.

A Canadian cold front brought thunderstorms Saturday evening that dropped temperatures across northern Vermont and upstate New York. A heat advisory remained in effect for southern sections of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, however.

In many parts of the country, it's not expected to get much better when the sun goes down. Temperatures are expected to remain at or above the high 70s overnight (26 degrees Celsius).

Experts warn residents in affected areas to limit their time outdoors. The risks are greatest for young children, the elderly and the sick.

Meanwhile, strong wind and rain were expected to persist in the Midwest, bringing the potential for heavy rainfall and flash flooding. Storms already knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents in Michigan and Wisconsin Saturday.

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Associated Press writers Wilson Ring in Vermont, Mark Pratt in Boston, Deepti Hajela in New York, Ron Todt in New Jersey, Brian Witte in Maryland, and Kali Robinson in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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