Slide show: hot, hotter, hottest

07/08/2010 12:00 AM |

Southold Human Resources Center employee Roseann Anderer pours a glass of ice water Tuesday evening for Viviana Giordano, who with her husband, John, stopped by the Mattituck facility that was opened as a community cooling center.

Temperatures reached a high of 100 degrees in Mattituck last Tuesday and lingered in the high 90s during Wednesday afternoon, according to local National Weather Service cooperative observer Leonard Llewellyn.

In response to the sweltering heat, Southold Town opened its human resources center in Mattituck as a cooling station to anyone looking for a break.

“It’s oppressive,” said Mattituck resident Viviana Giordana, 87, who took refuge from Tuesday’s heat at the cooling station. “It really takes your breath away.”

The last time the temperature hit 100 degrees during a heat wave — which the NWS defines as three consecutive days with temperatures over 90 — was in 2001, according to NWS meterologist Lauren Nash in Upton.

“You could say that one out of maybe 10 years you might experience temperatures of this magnitude,” said Ross Dickman, chief meteorologist for the NWS at Upton. “It’s something that we don’t experience often. Everybody is running air conditioners, and the utilities are really maxing out.”

As of Wednesday, power outages had been reported in eight areas in Greenport and one in Mattituck.

Forecasters say the grueling heat wave is expected to abate over the weekend but that residents should still take precautions to avoid future outages. Air conditioners should be set no lower than 78 degrees and people should avoid all non-essential electric consumption, according to the NWS.

“Basically, people should try to stay out of the sun and keep cool if they can,” said Mr. Llewellyn. “Use common horse sense.”

Meteorologists said that two high pressure systems west of Long Island are pumping hot air from the south into the northeast. A low pressure system coming up from the southeast, they said, will eventually “break things up” and “cool things down” during late Wednesday and early Thursday.

“Right now, the air’s just sitting there,” said meteorologist Nash. “It’s just sitting there, getting stagnant, and heating up, but we’re bringing in some southeast flow from the ocean that’s going to cool things down for the coastal areas.”

In response to the heat and increased ozone levels, the NWS issued an air quality alert for the five East End towns. Suffolk County Water Authority also issued an alert, saying heat and lack of rain has dramatically increased the demand for water on the East End. Since the beginning of June, Mr. Llewellyn has recorded only 1.52 inches of rain in Mattituck.

In an advisory on its website, the SCWA is calling for residents to voluntarily reduce water usage.

“In an effort to avoid a more serious problem that would hinder the authority’s ability to provide water for fire protection and other essential services,” the advisory reads, “we are asking all customers to only use water when needed.”

People are being advised to limit strenuous outdoor activity, and LIPA is advising residents to limit power usage as much as possible to avoid brownouts. Suggested preventative measures include:

* Eliminating non-essential electric consumption.

* Putting air conditioners on timers when home.

* Setting air conditioners at 78 degrees.

* Using fans to circulate air.

* Setting refrigerators and freezers at most efficient temperatures.

* Running major appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers in the morning or late evening to avoid the peak demand hours of 2 to 8 p.m.

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