July 19, 2024

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U.S. heatwave: Staff handed frozen towels and misters to keep visitors cool

2 min read

A blast of heat and humidity in the Midwest and Northeast days before the official start of summer put a wet blanket on outdoor activities from festivals to sports camps as officials urged people to take precautions.

Cities that opened cooling centers this week advised that Wednesday’s Juneteenth holiday means some public libraries, senior centers and pools where residents could beat the heat will be closed.

The dangerous temperatures were expected to peak in the eastern Great Lakes and New England on Wednesday and Thursday, and in the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic on Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service said. Heat index readings were expected to reach 100 to 105 degrees (37.7 C to 40.5 C) in many locations.

People and even zoo animals were forced to find ways to thwart the muggy weather.

An organization that provides produce to areas with limited access to fresh food in Columbus, Ohio, prepared frozen towels and packed cold water for their workers.

“Hydration is the key,” said Monique McCoy, market manager for the Local Matters Veggie Van.

In Toledo, Ohio, the city canceled a weekly fitness event and a neighboring suburb called off a street fair as temperatures reached the mid-90s (about 35 C). A food bank in upstate New York canceled deliveries for Wednesday out of concern for staff and volunteers.

Schools in New York canceled field trips Tuesday to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, where workers turned on water misters for visitors and the animals. Elephants and other animals were getting chunks of ice in their pools, said Ted Fox, the zoo’s executive director.

“Even the tigers love to lick the ice and put their heads on them when it’s this warm,” Fox said.

The blast of extreme temperatures came a little too early for many.

“This is hot for just moving in to summer, so I’m hoping that we’re going to see the downward trend in the temperature here soon because this is a warm one,” said…

John Seewer, Patrick Orsagos, The Associated Press

2024-06-19 10:52:58

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