WASHINGTON, July 6 (Xinhua) -- A middle aged woman street vendor, who called herself Jessie, doesn't seemed to mind the heat. Minding her snack cart in the hot Tuesday afternoon under the Washington Memorial, a major tourist attraction in the U.S. capital, she's just a little worried if the weather continues this way for the rest of the week, there will be fewer people on the street to buy her ice-cold sodas.
People cool off at a swimming pool in New York, the United States, July 5, 2010.
But for now, as heat wave gripped cities along the eastern seaboard, driving temperature beyond 100 degree Fahrenheit (over 37 degrees Celsius), people are doing what they can to cool off, giving Jessie a boost in sales.
"I'm doing a little better than usual," she said, noting that water, soda and ice-cream flew off the shelves faster, but hotdogs were going a little slow.
According to the National Weather Service, temperature taken at Reagan National Airport just outside the District of Columbia surpassed the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark at noon, and forecasters said with an increasingly humid air mass, the heat index value is likely to reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit (over 40 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon. The DC record for July 6 is set in 1999, at 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius).
In order to beat the heat, the District's Department of Parks and Recreation is opening outdoor pools two hours earlier and closing one hour later on Tuesday. Several public libraries are also extending hours until 9 p.m., and the federal city also offers several other "cooling centers" with air conditioning for the homeless and others to escape the heat.
But the heat is indeed taking people off the street, and Jessie, the street vendor, is probably right in worrying about this week's business. Forecasts say the weather is likely to remain this way all the way through Thursday, when a shower is expected to descend upon DC.
With people opting to stay indoors, power usage is also up. Dominion Virginia Power said usage in Northern Virginia, just across the Potomac River to the DC, has increased by 55 percent compared with a normal June. At Baltimore Gas and Electric, the peak usage on Tuesday is predicted to reach 6,900 megawatts, compared to a normal peak of 5,500 megawatts. In New York, the Consolidated Edison company is bracing for a record breaking 13, 450 megawatts peak, as temperature in the Big Apple went over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 39 degrees Celsius), breaking the record high of 101 degrees Fahrenheit for the day set in 1999.
The wide-spread heat wave is the result of a hot air mass that descended onto the Eastern seaboard Sunday, bringing with it a hot and humid Fourth of July. The heat wave tightened its grip since. In the Northeast "megalopolis region," which include Washington D. C., Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, the highest temperature is expected to be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday almost everywhere.
The temperature is of particular concern to New York officials, as they try to avoid a crisis similar to the one in 2006, when a heat wave killed 46 people in the city. New York has more than 500 "cooling centers" operating as of Tuesday.
One casualty of the heat wave is the Washington Metro. The Red Line, which connects Maryland and the DC, was forced to slow its trains because of a "heat kink" on the tracks. The kinks form as " overheated tracks expand and cannot be constrained by the cross ties and ballast support the track," according to a Metro press release.
Indeed, people are desperate for some cool breeze, and they are even willing to relive the record setting snow storm during the winter, dubbed Snowmageddon, than face the heat. The Washington Post conducted a poll on its website, asking people whether they prefer the 99 degrees in the shade or 55 inches of snow. Of the over 3,000 people voting, 55 percent chose Snowmageddon.