'Dangerous heat wave' takes hold in East, Central US

Americans from Texas to Maine sweated out a steamy day today as a heat wave cancelled events from festivals to horse races and pushed New York City to order power-saving steps to avoid overtaxing the electrical grid.

The National Weather Service said "a dangerous heat wave" was expected to break record highs in some places, particularly for nighttime. Daytime temperatures were poised to hit about 34 to 37 degrees Celsius, with high humidity making it feel considerably hotter.

"It's brutal," Jeffrey Glickman said as he paused during a run today in Washington.

The 37-year-old got out early to try to escape the worst heat but still planned to cut his route short on an already 32-degree Celsius morning.

"You just have to power through it the best you can," he said.

Many places facing excessive heat this weekend have no air conditioning, with cities opening shelters for people to cool off. While the Midwest will get some relief tomorrow as a cold front moves in, the East isn't so lucky, the weather service warned.

New York City authorities cancelled a Times Square commemoration of the 1969 moon landing and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe, musician John Legend and Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

The city also directed owners of many office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 26 degrees Celsius through tomorrow to reduce strain on the electrical grid.

In Chicago, heat forced organisers of the Humana Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series to cancel one of three weekend races. Today's 5K is off, but a 10K and half marathon are expected to go ahead tomorrow.

In New Jersey, operators of the Monmouth Park horse racing track were considering whether to push back the NZ$1.47 million Haskell Invitational later in the evening. Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in this year's Kentucky Derby and then was disqualified, was among those scheduled to run.

Amid pressure over a series of horse deaths in California, several tracks have cancelled today's races, including Saratoga Race Course and Finger Lakes in New York and Laurel Park in Maryland.

At Yankee Stadium, where the home team was set to face the Colorado Rockies, extra hydration stations were set up in all three decks and the bleachers. Announcements reminded fans to keep drinking water.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was mindful of the heat, too. "You tend to monitor guys a little more closely, want to see how your pitchers are doing," he said.

Europe, too, has been experiencing extreme heat waves in recent weeks. In France, thousands of schools were closed and outdoor events were cancelled after reaching a record high of 45.9 degrees last month.

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Europe's record temperature of 48C could be beaten this weekend

Britain is basking in 31C heat, three people have died from heatstroke in Spain as the mercury reached the mid-40s, and a mountain glacier in Sweden has melted so much that its peak is no longer the country’s highest point.

Alex Burkill, a Met Office meteorologist, said that despite the cooler temperatures of recent days “it is not the end of the hot weather for the summer” as sunshine returns to most of the country.

A yellow severe warning for thunderstorms was in place for some parts of England and Scotland until 9pm on Friday.

The Met Office said: “Some flooding of a few homes and businesses is possible, leading to some damage to buildings or structures. There is a good chance driving conditions will be affected by spray, standing water and/or hail, leading to longer journey times by car and bus. Some short-term loss of power and other services is likely.”

Sun-drenched British holidaymakers are enjoying record temperatures on the continent during their summer breaks. Tourists are being urged to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day and remember that children are particularly susceptible to the heat.

People cool off at the beach in Benidorm, Spain.People cool off at the beach in Benidorm, Spain. Photograph: Heino Kalis/Reuters

Eight places in Portugal broke local temperature records on Friday as a wave of heat from North Africa swept across the Iberian peninsula and officials predicted the scorching temperatures could get even worse over the weekend.

Temperatures built to around 45C (113 F) in many inland areas of Portugal, and were expected to peak at 47C (116.6F) in some places on Saturday. Large sections of Portugal are on red alert on the country’s civil protection agency’s danger scale.

The highest temperature recorded on Thursday, when the heat began to rise, was 45.2 C (113.4 F) near Abrantes, a town 150km (93 miles) north-east of the capital, Lisbon, the country’s weather agency IPMA said.

In Spain three men died of heatstroke. A middle-aged man in Barcelona was found collapsed on a street and taken to hospital where he later died. Two other men – a roadworker in his 40s and a 78-year-old pensioner – also died from heatstroke.

 

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Heat Wave Ruled Out in Cuba

Havana, Jul 23 (Prensa Latina) The possibility of a heat wave in Cuba in the next few days was ruled out by a specialist from the Climate Center of the Meteorological Institute of the island, the daily Granma points out today.

The prevalence of very warm thermal sensations refers to particular atmospheric situations in mid-latitudes and continental zones, when temperatures reach values above 40 degrees Celsius, Ramon Perez, a researcher at the scientific institution, told the newspaper.

This reality, together with the prevailing low humidity, leads to the death of human beings from dehydration and other causes, he explained.

In particular, Cuba, due to its insular condition, makes such events improbable, as the sea breeze will always be a mitigating factor for not recording such extreme scenarios, to which is added the usual cooling of the atmosphere caused by the typical rains of summer afternoons, Perez added.

According to the expert, the heat wave concept depends not only on the behavior of the temperatures, but also on the impact they cause.

When comparing what happened in previous summers, he declared that in June there was no record of absolute maximum, while the monthly average was very close to the norm with an anomaly of 0.2 degrees Celsius below the usual.

Nor, he also added, in the first two decades of July there is any report of new primacy of maximum. The highest record registered to date is 37.3 degrees, in Veguitas, Granma, on the 17th, he commented.

During July of the 2015, 11 heat records were set, he recalled.

Although the current summer period in Cuba remains within the normal range, between 1951 and 2010 the average temperature at the stage increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius, which confirms the trend towards a warmer climate in this country, he warned.

This situation progressively leads us to extreme heat values over the years, but at least for now our insular condition protects us from the so-called waves, he concluded.

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Dangerous fires, extreme heat across Southern California

A massive heat wave descended on Southern California on Sunday, bringing record-breaking temperatures and fueling fires throughout the region, including one in Silver Lake that threatened homes and forced the closure of the 2 Freeway for several hours.

Temperatures hit triple-digits in several valley and inland area cities, including 106 degrees in Pasadena and Lancaster, sending residents to air-conditioned shops and movie theaters as fire officials kept a wary eye on the forecast, worried that dry, gusty winds would make already-ripe fire conditions more dangerous.

Forecasters expected the heat to peak Monday, with temperatures ranging from 100 to 110 degrees in most inland areas and potentially breaking records along the coast. Public officials braced for the impact, issuing a flex alert asking residents to conserve electricity and opening cooling centers across the region.

As fire crews continued to battle the so-called Sherpa fire that has burned roughly 7,893 acres in Santa Barbara County, firefighters in Los Angeles got their own scare in Silver Lake, where a fire spread into brush along the 2 Freeway, which was shutdown about 2 p.m. and reopened at 5:30 p.m.. Scores of firefighters – and some residents – quickly descended on the scene Sunday afternoon, trying to save nearby homes.

RELATED Heat wave shatters temperature records across Southern California

Heat wave shatters temperature records across Southern California

Meanwhile, a wildfire fueled by dry brush and sweltering temperatures has scorched 1,500 acres just north of the U.S.-Mexico border and prompted mandatory evacuations for the entire East County community of Potrero.

About 25 homes south of state Route 94 and east of state Route 188, near where the fire initially sparked about 11:30 a.m., were also evacuated.

Tuesday could mark the start of a cool-off, as a high-pressure system moves east and moisture-filled clouds blow in from Baja California, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service. Temperatures should drop by about 10 degrees, he said.

The hot, dry weather was a sharp contrast to the cooler, cloudier days Los Angeles has seen in recent weeks – nicknamed “June gloom” by locals.

“It changes so fast,” said Terry Choi, a Torrance resident avoiding Sunday’s heat at an ice cream parlor in Alhambra. “I was wearing cardigans last week.”

Downtown L.A. hit 96 degrees by mid-afternoon Sunday – far cooler than San Bernardino (111 degrees) or Ontario (110). Burbank peaked at 109 degrees, surpassing the previous record of 104 degrees set in 1973. Woodland Hills tied a record of 109 degrees set in 2008.

The National Weather Service also issued a red-flag warning, saying the soaring temperatures, low humidity and gusty “sundowner” winds could present an “extreme fire danger.”

RELATED Dangerous fires, extreme heat causes misery across Southern California

Dangerous fires, extreme heat causes misery across Southern California

Marnie Klein was sitting on her couch when she heard a rustling noise, like leaves. She looked up to see a telephone pole just beyond her Lake View Avenue backyard completely engulfed in flames. She grabbed a phone to call 911, wielding a garden hose in her other hand.

“Somebody help!” she screamed.

The fire started near the intersection of Lake View Avenue and Allesandro Way – the cause was under investigation – and pushed northwest by winds, Los Angeles fire officials said. Nearly 200 firefighters responded as a helicopter swooped over the freeway, dropping fire retardant.

Crews needed about 45 minutes to get the fire under control. Two homes on Corralitas Drive were damaged along with three sheds on nearby properties, said David Ortiz, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The dry weather and 100-degree heat set the stage for the fire, Ortiz said.

“The biggest factor was the high temperature,” he said. “The grass was 100% receptive to the fire.”

The flames stopped alarmingly close to Klein’s home. Part of her back fence lay in a charred pile. The cushions on her patio furniture were singed. Her house smelled of smoke, but it wasn’t damaged.

“I’m the most lucky person of the day,” Klein said. “There were guardian angels watching over me.”

Another fire broke out Sunday afternoon in San Diego County, tearing through 100 acres of rocky, steep terrain and prompting dozens of evacuations west of Potrero, located not far from the Mexican border.

In Santa Barbara County, firefighters worked to better contain the Sherpa fire before the weather conditions worsened. That fire, which sparked Wednesday afternoon near Refugio Road, chewed through a combustive combination of chaparral, tall grass and brush in a wilderness area that hasn’t burned since 1955.

The fire also burned a small water treatment building at El Capitan state beach, fire officials said, and damaged avocado, lemon and olive crops. At one point, the fire forced the closure of the 101 Freeway.

As of Sunday afternoon, officials estimated the fire was 51% contained, but warned that the biggest challenge could still be ahead. A red-flag warning has been issued until 10 a.m. Tuesday.

RELATED Santa Barbara fire explodes with the help of dangerous 'sundowner' winds

Santa Barbara fire explodes with the help of dangerous 'sundowner' winds

Elsewhere in Southern California, families looked for ways to stay cool.

For Bryan Adams and Katia Kaplun, the year’s hottest day began with a stop at a splash park in City Terrace, where their young son could run through jets of water. After that came a stop at Fosselman’s Ice Cream, where outdoor seats were empty as customers crammed into the air-conditioned parlor.

Adams said his family’s house isn’t well-shaded and doesn’t have air-conditioning. They rely on wall-mounted units, outdoor fans and a kiddie pool to get through the summer, he said.

“We have to be creative about ways to stay cool,” Adams said.

Down the street, Valerie and Richard Gonzalez walked out of Target pushing a shopping cart loaded with two large tower fans. There’s no air-conditioning at their home in El Sereno, they said, so they planned to set up a pool, blast the fans and ice beers to stay cool.

“We’re just going to hang out and wait for the sun to go down,” Valerie Gonzalez said.

When they reached their car, she sent her husband back inside the store to buy a towel for their drive home. The steering wheel was too hot to touch.

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Major heat wave in southern Pakistan kills over 600 people

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP): A scorching heat wave across Pakistan's southern Sindh province has killed at least 622 people, authorities said yesterday as morgues overflowed with the dead and overwhelmed hospitals struggled to aid those clinging to life.

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