Philadelphia extends heat emergency

heat emergency
Charles Mostoller

By JEFF McMILLAN Associated Press

It’s not exactly flowing with milk and honey — just ask the area’s struggling black bears — but for city folks in the Northeast trying to escape a nearly weeklong hot spell that only  intensified Sunday, Promised Land offered respite.

Those with the resources fled to pools, beaches and higher elevations like Promised Land State Park, at 1,800 feet in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and a drive of about 2 1/2 hours from Philadelphia.

From the Pacific Northwest to the southern Great Plains to the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor, more than 85 million Americans woke up Sunday to excessive heat warnings or heat advisories issued by the National Weather Service. The agency warned of “extremely oppressive” conditions from Washington to Boston.

Numerous record highs were forecast to be tied or broken in the Northeast, the weather service said.

Philadelphia was forecast to hit 100 degrees Sunday before even factoring in humidity. At least one heat-related death, in New York, has been reported. Around the region, athletic events were shortened or postponed.

Philadelphia officials extended a heat emergency through Monday, sending workers to check on homeless people and knock on the doors of other vulnerable residents. The city also opened cooling centers and stationed air-conditioned buses at four intersections for people to cool off.

Forecasters urged people to wear light clothing, drink lots of water, limit time outside, and check on elderly people and pets.

“The longer a heat wave goes on, the more dangerous it can be,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole in a statement. “People who have been suffering through the heat for the last few days need your help. Please check on your neighbors and loved ones, especially older Philadelphians, and make sure they’re safe.

“If you’re worried about someone’s ability to cool off, please call the PCA Heatline at 215-765-9040. And remember to take care of yourself,” she added. “As we move back into the working week, the risk of heat stress and heat stroke rises for all of us. Drink plenty of water, take frequent rests, stay out of the sun, and enjoy the air conditioning whenever you can.”

The heat was withering even at lower elevations. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sunday’s high was expected to be 97, and not punching below 70 at night.

“That also leads to the danger. People aren’t getting that relief overnight,” said weather service forecaster Lily Chapman. “That stress on the body is kind of cumulative over time.”

The area also has been drier than usual, she said.

Regular campers and cabin residents in Promised Land attribute the dry conditions to unusually numerous bear sightings. The animals roam neighborhoods and campsites for scraps as streams and berries dry up.

“Today’s hot,” said Alex Paez, 34, of Scranton, sitting under a shade canopy at the beach in Promised Land. “If you don’t need to be outside doing something productive, then stay in.”

For information on cooling centers, spray grounds and other initiatives offered to help Philadelphians during the heat health emergency, visit phila.gov/guides/extreme-heat-guide

Metro staff contributed to this report. 

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