NYC braces for extreme heat wave

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-20 12:39:03|Editor: Xiang Bo
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NEW YORK, July 19 (Xinhua) -- New York City (NYC) entered a state of emergency on Friday due to the first heat wave of this summer, which covers most of the Midwest and Northeast and is expected to persist through the weekend.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, temperatures in the city are predicted to soar to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) and could feel like 111 degrees Fahrenheit (43.9 degrees Celsius) as the extremely hot air sweeps through.

Mayor Bill De Blasio declared a local state of emergency on Thursday due to the excessive heat which is in effect from 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Friday to the end of Sunday.

In an executive order, the mayor ordered office buildings of 100 feet (30.48 meters) or taller to set thermostats at 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5 degrees Celsius) during this period to reduce strain on the electrical grid.

He also urged citizens to stay indoors with air conditioning during the weekend because "it's serious stuff."

"This kind of heat can be dangerous -- keep cool, keep hydrated, keep inside if you can," the mayor said on Twitter on Friday.

In NYC, extreme heat is the number one cause of mortality from extreme weather, according to a report in 2017.

The city has opened around 500 cooling centers in public facilities located across five boroughs for those who have no air conditioning at home. Social service departments will also dispatch outreach personnel to connect the street homeless with shelters.

The annual New York City Triathlon previously scheduled for Sunday has also been canceled due to predicted temperatures and humidity.

"After exhausting all options to mitigate athlete, volunteer, spectator and staff exposure alike, we are unable to provide either a safe event experience or an alternate race weekend," the event organizer said in a statement on Thursday.

Con Edison, the utility service that has been under scrutiny since a massive blackout in Midtown and Upper West Manhattan last Saturday, is "ready for what the heat will bring," said its president Tim Cawley.

"By any measure, we are the most reliable electric delivery system in the United States," said Cawley, adding that the utility is "poised to respond to any outages that come in" with an additional 4,000 people on guard during the weekend.

The United States is not the only place that has experienced a heat wave this summer. Last month was the hottest June on record in Europe as a record-breaking heat wave swept across Western Europe. France, as one of the hardest hit countries, experienced temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) for the first time.

The magnitude of extreme heat in 2019 "is to a large extent attributable to anthropogenic global warming," Kai Kornhuber, scientist of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Extreme heat waves will become more common if we continue to emit greenhouse gases," he said, adding that increasingly hotter and dryer weather in some regions is providing favorable conditions for wildfires, a frequent summer nightmare for the U.S. West Coast.

Though individual efforts can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, it eventually relies on governments on various levels -- from city, country to global entities such as the United Nations, to save the planet from climate change, the scientist noted.