A heat advisory and an air quality alert are in effect for NYC, Long Island, and parts of New Jersey as temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 90s today and Monday. The National Weather Service says the combined heat and humidity will make it feel like 103 degrees outside at certain times during the next two days, and air pollution levels will be harmful particularly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Strenuous outdoor physical activity is inadvisable during an air quality alert. As of 2 p.m. on Sunday, NYC hit 120 on the air quality index -- any number over 100 is considered unhealthy for "sensitive groups" including "the very young, and those with preexisting respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease," the NWS warns.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would open 145 cooling centers—free-to-use, indoor, air conditioned spaces—as well as 130 misting locations, 650 spray showers in parks, 300 hydrants and 14 cool streets in an attempt to help New Yorkers get through this terrible coronavirus summer. You can get more information about the cooling centers here.
The northeast region is just the latest part of the country to experience the extreme heat that has punished a large swath of the United States in recent days. The oppressive record temperatures that have afflicted the South and Southwest are in keeping with what scientists say the world can expect as the climate crisis worsens. Most of the nation is expected to see temperatures in the 90s next week.
"It’s July — you kind of expect this, to some extent," Greg Carbin, the chief of the forecast operations branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center, told the NY Times. "But the magnitude of it is a little severe."
Con Edison says it is prepared for a surge in electricity use during the heat wave, but warns that "the heat, humidity and increased demand for electricity to power air conditioners can cause cables to overheat and lead to outages. The coming days could also bring thunderstorms, which can affect the overhead delivery system and cause outages.”
Maybe put a couple of bottles of water in the freezer just in case the power goes out? And it's always worth remembering that it's not safe to leave pets inside your car, even for a short period of time.