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Heat blankets U.S. as workers return after holiday


January 6, 2010

Wi th a scorching holiday weekend in the rearview mirror, a real summer sizzle is about to wash over parts of the United States.

After an extended Fourth of July weekend when temperatures inched into at least the 90s from Maine to Texas and into the Southwest and Death Valley, the mid-Atlantic is embarking on a string of intensely hot days, with temperatures in some places closing in on 100- plus degrees.

Temperatures could reach as high as 102 degrees today, meteorologists said, and Wednesday was forecast to be the most humid day of the stretch.

And unlike on the long Independence Day weekend, when utilities had lower demand for power, the masses returning to work today amid the possible record-setting heat across the Northeast threatened to push utilities usage to record levels.

Demand was anticipated to increase when offices reopened today, said Bob McGee, spokesman for the Consolidated Edison utility in New York. Con Ed was preparing for peak usage to break the record set on Aug. 2, 2006, he said.

In Philadelphia, the increased load from the heat blew fuses at transformers run by the Peco utility, said spokeswoman Karen Muldoon Geus. About 1,900 customers were without power this morning, down from about 8,000 on Monday.

Davey Adams, 45, was headed back to his job this morning as a forklift driver at a package c omp a ny wa r e h o u s e i n Philadelphia that has no air conditioning, just fans.

He said he planned to use "cold water and a washcloth" draped over his head to keep cool.

He had spent the weekend at his son's house at the New Jersey shore, where it was too hot even to sit at the beach, he said, so they stayed inside.

In the East, warm air is "sitting over the top of us, and it's not really going to budge much for the next day or two," Brian Korty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Md. , sai d Monday.


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