Air quality alerts are in effect in New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday because of the increased presence of ground-level pollutants in the air.
New York City officials and Con Edison management are urging customers to conserve energy to help avoid blackouts. The power company has already responded to scattered outages across the city but almost all were restored on Thursday morning. Con Ed is asking customers to conserve power wherever possible, such as running dishwashers and washing machines at night or delaying their use for a few days.
"If you don't need to do the laundry, if you don't need to use your microwave, if you don't need to use air conditioning or a lot of lights, turn off anything you don't need," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Help us get through today, tomorrow, and I think after that, things are going to be looking a lot better. But let's just be smart about it."
The National Weather Service has issued several alerts, including Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories.
"Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities," NWS said.
What Is an Excessive Heat Warning?
NWS issues an Excessive Heat Warning when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make conditions feel like 105 degrees or higher.
"Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening," NWS said. "Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Wear light-weight and loose-fitting clothing when possible, and drink plenty of water."
The Excessive Heat Warning is in effect on Thursday for several counties in New Jersey (the exact times vary by county).
Dangerously hot conditions with heat index values up to 108 are expected on Thursday, according to NWS.
These are the counties under the Excessive Heat Warning: Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Union, Hudson, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Burlington, Ocean, Somerset, and Monmouth.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has declared an Ozone Action Day for Thursday. The air quality is expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including very young children, older adults, and people who have respiratory diseases.
"The heat and humidity will continue into Thursday with mostly sunny skies, light southwesterly winds, and hot temperatures," New Jersey DEP said.
An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect on Thursday for New York City, parts of Long Island, and parts of the Hudson Valley.
NWS expects "dangerously hot conditions" with heat index values up to 107 on Thursday.
New York City cooling centers are open. You can find one near you by going to NYC Cooling Center Finder. The Petco pet store chain is offering its 32 locations in New York City as pet-friendly cooling centers.
New York state's Environmental Conservation Department and Health Department have issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for the New York City and Long Island metropolitan regions for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of photochemical smog," officials said. "Automobile exhaust and out-of-state emission sources are the primary sources of ground-level ozone and are the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast."
An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect on Thursday and a Heat Advisory is in effect through Friday for Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London counties in Connecticut. Heat index values up to 107 are expected on Thursday.
Possible Power Outages
"Due to the intense heat, all households and businesses should limit energy usage to prevent power outages," Notify NYC said in an alert. "Please limit the use of washers, dryers, air conditioners, and other energy-intensive equipment, and turn off lights/televisions when not needed."
De Blasio said municipal buildings are reducing power consumption during the heat wave.
"We're certainly taking that action with our city government buildings. We are reducing energy use," de Blasio said. "Everyone working together just a little bit is going to help us protect energy for everyone."
Con Edison said its crews were ready to respond to any service problems.
"The heat, humidity, and increased demand for electricity to power air conditioners can cause cables to overheat and lead to outages," Con Edison said in a news release. "The coming days could also bring thunderstorms, which can affect the overhead delivery system and cause outages."
The company is also asking customers to turn off the air conditioning when they're not at home. "[U]se a timer to start cooling a half-hour before arriving home," Con Ed said.
Other utility companies in the area are making similar conservation requests of their respective customers.
PSEG Long Island's Michael Sullivan said reducing overall peak-hour demand is even more crucial because so many people are still working from home.
"PSEG Long Island has made preparations for this situation and our personnel will work according to plan to provide the electricity we all need," Sullivan said. "By working together, we can avoid exceeding load forecasts and ensure that everyone's air conditioning stays on as we weather this heat."