| NEW YORK, July 21
NEW YORK, July 21 Crowds flocked to waterfronts
and swimming pools on the U.S. East Coast and in the Midwest on
Thursday to try to cope with a massive heat wave that has
killed at least 22 people this week.
The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings
for wide areas of the central and eastern United States, saying
the combined heat and humidity could push the "real feel"
temperature to 115 Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) through Saturday.
By Thursday afternoon in New York City, the thermometer hit
91F (33C) but it felt more like 112F (44C), according to
With the promise of refreshing ocean breezes, Boston's
whale-watching ships and high-speed tourist boats sold out
their trips by mid-morning.
Cooling centers in Richmond, Virginia, and New York City
welcomed overheated residents and a truck labeled "Water
Fountain on the Go" cruised Manhattan streets, offering to
refill water bottles to keep residents hydrated.
Electricity utility Con Edison (ED.N) said scattered
outages were likely in New York in coming days with demand
expected to hit all-time highs.
Unhealthy smog levels triggered by the heat were reported
in Chicago, where residents were asked by the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency to reduce polluting activities
such as idling vehicles and mowing lawns.
By the weekend, the heat wave is expected to cover half of
the United States and affect nearly half of its 310 million
people, AccuWeather.com forecaster Mary Yoon said.
"What makes this heat wave so impressive is the pure size
and longevity," said Yoon.
'DANGEROUS HEALTH RISK'
Longstanding records in Philadelphia and other cities may
melt away by Friday, when temperatures are expected to spike.
The low pressure system that barreled east was expected to
bring powerful thunderstorms with hail to northeastern states.
"Do not take this threat lightly," the National Weather
Service warned on its website, noting the extreme temperatures
are particularly dangerous for the elderly and the very young.
"The length of this heat wave will pose a very real and
dangerous health risk to these at-risk groups and those that do
not have access to air conditioning."
In the central United States, where the high temperatures
have killed nearly two dozen people, more deaths were tied to
An elderly woman whose body was found in her bedroom in St.
Louis, where a working air conditioner had not been turned on
despite 99F (37C) temperatures, was determined on Wednesday to
have died of heat stroke.
Similar causes of death were reported on Thursday in Kansas
City, Missouri, where a woman in her early 80s died, and in
Hutchinson, Kansas, where three elderly people were found dead
in separate homes on Wednesday.
Of the people who died in Hutchinson, one had a ceiling fan
and another, a 76-year-old man, had an air conditioner.
"He had an air-conditioning unit in the window but didn't
use it because he didn't want to pay the electric bill," said
Hutchinson Police Sergeant Thad Pickard.
(Additional reporting by Bruce Olson, Lauren Keiper, Kevin
Murphy, Karin Matz and Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton
and John O'Callaghan)