The massive heat wave over the nation is sure to put power grids across the country to a major test. Utility companies deployed thousands of workers to be able to quickly respond to any outages during the weekend’s intense weather.
In New York City, Con Ed said it had more than 4,000 workers ready, Illinois’ ComEd had mobilized more than 750 and Detroit’s DTE Energy also had crews on standby ready to deal with problems from both demand and potential thunderstorm damage.
ComEd, which serves Chicago, is prepared to send out cooling buses and offer free water and charging stations should there be prolonged outages.
In an effort to lower the stress on the power supply, New York City’s mayor ordered government buildings and private office buildings to keep thermostats at 78 degrees. This restriction is set to lasts until just before midnight Sunday.
“Air conditioning saves lives. They do not need to be on full blast to be effective,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a statement.
The heat wave stretches from southwestern Kansas and parts of Oklahoma to the Carolinas and southern Maine.
More than 126 million were under excessive heat warnings and another 31 million were under heat advisories on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
In Chicago on Friday, the temperature hit 93 degrees, and Saturday was even hotter. Factor in humidity, and it felt hotter than 100 degrees, said National Weather Service meteorologist Casey Sullivan of the Chicago office.
“It’s the humidity that’s making it worse,” Sullivan said.
It’ll be hot and oppressive, but it shouldn’t be enough to break any records, he said.
“We want people to stay out of the heat as much as possible,” Sullivan said.
Relief can’t come soon enough for some New Yorkers. In New York City, a network communication issue delayed many subway lines Friday, which exacerbated the scorching conditions.
“This kind of meltdown during a heat wave is UNACCEPTABLE,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
Passengers were left waiting on crowded and hot platforms. After about an hour-and-a-half, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that the system was back and running, NBC New York reported.
“It’s ridiculous,” fumed one passenger to the station. “It’s 100 degrees out here. It’s hot, and it’s hot in the train station.”
The city declared a heat emergency, and many outdoor activities — including Sunday’s New York City Triathlon and Saturday’s Coney Island Music Festival —were called off because of the heat.
Sheryl Queen, owner of the Twist & Shake ice cream shop on Revere Beach north of Boston, said her shop’s ready with extra staff, but she’s not expecting a rush until after the sun goes down and things cool off some.
“Sometimes, it’s even too hot for ice cream, but we’re here,” she said.