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Week-long heat wave finally breaks

July 21, 2013 4:39:49 AM PDT
The oppressive heat wave that settled over the Tri-state area for the past seven days has ended.

Temperatures are returning to normal Sunday, with highs in the mid 80's, and the humidity will be lower.

For about 20 minutes on Saturday, showers in Brooklyn provided a fresh relief from the summer heat.

On the heels of a break in this heat wave, New Yorkers like Brenna Vashisht , who lives on the East Side, are starting to come out of their air conditioned apartments to enjoy more comfortable temperatures.

"It cooled down, and the sun's gone, and it's summer, and I'm enjoying the weather, so I'm still going out," says Vashisht.

However, that doesn't mean it still isn't hot outside.

Susan Rappaport owns Nu-Yu Revolution Fitness Center on the West Side, and she says her clients are flocking to her air conditioned studio.

"People don't want to be doing their exercise outside, because it's terrible outside. It's so hot," says Rappaport.

Isaac Mills makes his living outside as a street musician. He has no choice but to play in the elements ? hot or cold.

"When it gets so hot, it's really hard for people to reach in their pocket and get money out," adds Mills.

The break in the heat comes after Con Ed reported a new power usage record Friday as excessive heat sent temperatures soaring to dangerous levels in the New York City area.

The heat index at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City hit 107 degrees at 1 p.m. Friday, the highest mark during the six-day heat wave. Newark reached 100 degrees for the second day in a row, tying a record on Friday set in 1999 and 1977.

Power usage in New York City hit a new record high between 1 and 2 p.m. on Friday, Con Edison said. Usage reached a peak of 13,214 megawatts (MW). The previous all-time peak record was 13,189 MW set on July 22, 2011.

For the most part, the power problems have been kept to a minimum. Con Ed's crews have been working 12-hour shifts to bring power back to customers who have lost power.

The extreme heat is also taking a physical toll. Workers at one New York City McDonald's walked off the job because the air conditioning was broken. Workers say they became physically sick from the heat after the air-conditioning broke down on Friday morning.

McDonald's spokesman Bruce Colley says two of the three air conditioning units in the stores were fixed by late afternoon. Colley says the store has brought in fans and portable air conditioning units. He says McDonald's apologizes for any discomfort the employees experienced.

The Health Department is urging New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent serious illness that can result from the heat, especially among vulnerable individuals, such as seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental disability. If someone you know is unconscious or unresponsive, call 911 immediately.

"Everyone knows heat waves are uncomfortable, but they are also dangerous," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "With each passing day, the risk for heat stroke increases. During this extreme heat, it is important for New Yorkers to check in on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they don't have air conditioning or live alone. Make sure they are staying hydrated and have a cool place to stay."

From 2006 to 2012, more than 100 New Yorkers died from heat, and more than 80 percent of heat-related deaths in recent years occurred in homes without air conditioning. In addition, excessive heat can contribute to many additional deaths for chronic disease, such as heart disease and chronic lung disease. On average, an estimated additional 100 deaths of this type occur per summer from heat waves.

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