A heat emergency takes effect today in New York City ahead of an extremely hot and humid weekend.
Authorities urge everyone to stay cool and safe as record-breaking temperatures grip the area.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a heat emergency from 9 a.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The National Weather Service has also issued an excessive heat warning for New York City in effect from noon Friday through 8 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re talking about the hottest temperatures in the last seven years here in New York City,” de Blasio said.
As part of the executive order, all office buildings 100 feet and taller must set their thermostats to 78 degrees to conserve energy until Sunday night.
“We are about to enter a heat emergency, and must do all we can to keep New Yorkers safe,” the mayor said in a statement Thursday night. “The City government is limiting its energy use to reduce strain on the electrical grid, and now private office buildings will also have to do their part.”
There are exemptions for accommodating people with disabilities or health conditions. This also doesn’t apply to residential spaces or ground-floor uses like theaters, restaurants and retail, but he urges others to do the same.
“If you have air conditioning, use it, but set it to 78 degrees, which will keep you safe and cool, but will also allow us to make sure that we’re being careful about our energy supply,” de Blasio said.
The mayor also ordered horse carriages back to the stables. A spokesperson says they will remain off the street until the mercury drops below 89 degrees.
Outdoor Events Cancelled
For the first time ever, the New York City Triathlon has been cancelled. Organizers say there will be no race Sunday “due to the oppressive heat and humidity forecast.” Participants can still pick up their shirts and medals, though.
Event organizers say the decision did not come lightly and they considered modifying the course, but ultimately decided to cancel the race.
“The decision to cancel this race came to, came to the realization that 99% of our athletes would be out there on course, and there’s no way we can guarantee them an amazing, top-end, safe and fun event experience,” Scott Hutmacher, Life Time Tri brand manager, said.
Life Time, which has been producing the NYC Triathlon for the past seven years, says they consulted with the office of emergency management and various city agencies involved in the race before canceling the event.
The news upset countless people who were going to take part in the competition, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reports.
“Tell everyone be careful and just proceed with it,” Park Slope triathlete Tom Tobin said.
“The heat is something they need to just plan for and assume. I mean, 90-95 degrees should be the baseline of what’s expected,” Hamilton Heights triathlete Anthony Brown said.
“I was very upset. I’ve been training for this thing for four months. I spent money buying a new bike,” Williamsburg triathlete Ron Jacobson said.
The Triathlon Expo still went on at the New York Hilton in Midtown. One mother-daughter duo came from Detroit to compete together.
“We had airfare. We have several nights in a hotel. We have friends who also were flying in to see it,” Susan Harvey said.
Mercedes Alafriz is from Phoenix, where they have dry heat. What makes the heat dangerous here is the humidity, which stops sweat from evaporating. But sometimes competitive juices take over.
“I was bummed because I was ready. I’m ready,” Alafriz said.
More than 4,000 participants are affected, including Charles Catherine, a blind triathlete who placed second last year in the para-triathlete division.
His quest for gold will have to wait until next year.
“We have a very deep field of para-triathletes, and you know, for that reason alone, it’s a little frustrating because it’s almost like nationals for us. It’s a big moment for the community,” he said.
There is no plan to reschedule the event. The NYC Triathlon will return on July 19, 2020.
The triathlon wasn’t the only outdoors event that got cancelled.
The idea of running outside was a no-go for Mike Brydges, who was supposed to take part in a marathon qualifier race around Central Park on Saturday.
“I could only imagine the number of people that’ve had heat stroke from this,” he told CBS2. “Part of me was hoping that it would’ve been cancelled, but I wasn’t sure that they would actually do it. So now, I’m kind of relieved.”
The mayor’s office announced Friday afternoon that OZY Fest would be cancelled due to the heat emergency.
“In the case of OZY Fest, we do have in our contract for either rain events or extreme heat events, we do have the option of exercising cancellation if the heat index exceeds 105. We determined for both days, as we got updated information, that that was going to be the case, so for the safety of both the public, for the performers and for our responders who would be on the scene, we felt the best thing to do was to cancel the event, as well as all outdoor major events that are occurring in our parks over the weekend,” NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver said.
According to the festival’s Twitter account, all ticket holders will receive refunds.
The Coney Island Music Festival, scheduled for Saturday, was also canceled.
Festival organizers are working to reschedule.
The forecast has many people changing their plans.
“I was going to go to Rye Playland, but it is way too hot,” Saba Gerald, of New Rochelle, said. “We cannot do that.”
But for other big events, the show must go on.
Organizers of Pinknic, a giant annual picnic on Randall’s Island, say they’ve added a brand new water feature for attendees to cool off.
Besides drinking water, doctors say the best thing you can do is take breaks so you don’t dehydrate.
“In this kind of heat, it can happen really quickly – within an our or two – especially if you’re dancing or playing extreme sports,” said Dr. Dyan Hes, medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics.
Temperatures are expected to feel like triple digits.
“I’m actually frightened to even face that,” Yonette Grogan, of Chelsea, said.
The city’s pools and beaches will have extended hours, with pools open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and beaches open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Plenty of kids couldn’t wait to get to the pool Friday.
“It is too hot out here to be in the sun, so people have to go into the pool,” one child said.
“I’ve been to the pool plenty of times, but this time, it’s gonna be really refreshing because it’s very hot outside,” another child said.
On Long Island, most state park beaches are extending their hours until 8 p.m., and Hempstead town beaches will stay open an extra hour until 7 p.m. through Sunday.
Jones Beach State Park is set to go forward with scheduled soccer and volleyball tournaments but because of the heat, frequent time-outs and water breaks will be required and enforced.
Residents are urged to check on pets and the elderly. Call 911 if you feel faint, and call 311 to find a cooling center or visit . There are about 500 cooling centers in New York City.