Keeping Cool in the Heat Wave

The New York City Office of Emergency Management has put out a heat wave warning and opened up cooling centers for today and Thursday the 9th.  This is a good example of the sort of emergency we should all be prepared for ahead of time — heat waves and air conditioning put a heavy load on the electrical grid, and a bad heat wave could cause power outages, leaving many people in a life-threatening heat situation.  This post focuses on what New York City neighborhoods are likely to be coolest.  As an additional resource, a great list of things one can do to keep cool at home without air conditioning was recently compiled on another website.

On early summer days like today, if you’re not in an air conditioned office or apartment, you can generally find cooler air out at the beach, or on piers along the area’s waterways.  Temperatures are about 75 degrees at the beach today, as shown with this weather observation map you can view using City College’s NYCMetNet.  The map shows Manhattan (top center), Brooklyn and Coney Island (bottom) and shows air temperatures drop from 95 to 75 degrees over just a few miles as you head south through Brooklyn and arrive on Coney Island.

Google Map showing observed temperatures (updated for June 9th, 4pm), with arrows for wind direction. Credit: City College of New York's NYCMetNet.

If you can’t reach a cooling station or the beach, getting out to the end of a long Hudson River Pier with shade should be refreshing.

Heat waves can be deadly — one of the worst heat waves in New York’s history caused nearly 1500 fatalities in 1896, and is documented with a flair for history in the new book, Hot Time in the Old Town by Edward Kohn.

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