Beachgoers got a head start on the weekend Friday morning during the second heat wave of the summer.
“We just came out early today so we could get to the beach and enjoy it while we can,” said Jennifer Kusnirik, 43, who took her two children to Cove Beach along Lake Lenape in Mays Landing.
Watching Katelyn, 7, and Brandon, 10, play in the water, Kusnirik, of Mays Landing, said they’d probably stay for only a couple hours and avoid the worst of the midday heat.
Temperatures had peaked at 94 degrees as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, compared to the normal of 84 degrees. The record for the day for Atlantic City is 98 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The latest heat wave developed as a hot-air mass over the Midwest earlier in the week, said weather service meteorologist Al Cope, and the worst temperatures will likely be centered on the Southeast.
“We’re actually not getting the worst of it here,” he said.
But Friday’s heat was part of a long stretch of hot days that is forecasted to continue through July 4. AccuWeather is predicting a high of 92 degrees and a low of 75 degrees for today, under partly sunny skies.
“On the Fourth of July, we’ll likely have highs in the upper 80s, which is closer to normal,” Cope said, noting that the highest temperatures will likely occur this weekend.
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Friday, with local authorities cautioning against heat-related illness.
Atlantic County Health Officer Patricia Diamond said everyone should stay hydrated and avoid strenuous outdoor activities. More vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those with illnesses that make them more susceptible to heat, should seek air-conditioned places such as libraries, malls or senior centers.
“People should check on each other, especially if their neighbors are elderly,” she said.
Similarly, Diamond said employers should be cognizant of workers in the heat. The county, for instance, has advised its employees to take regular breaks.
“As any employer deals with the heat, they should get the most strenuous work done early in the day and just be mindful of their workers,” she said.
The “regulars” were at the Egg Harbor Township Senior Center on Friday, but staff was preparing for an influx of people early next week, said site manager Carolyn Maltz.
“As it gets hotter, we’ll probably get more people here,” she said.
But the heat isn’t the key draw.
“Some of them have air conditioning and some don’t, but a lot of them just want a little relief on their electric bill,” she said.
Maltz said many seniors turn down their air conditioning on particularly hot days and head to the center for the hottest part of the day. All of the county senior centers, which are sponsored in part by the federal Nutrition Project for the Elderly, are open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week.
After severe weather cleared early Friday morning, beachgoers descended on places such as Cove Beach and Wildwood’s Morey’s Piers to escape the mounting heat.
Tim Samson, the amusement park’s marketing director, said there was a long line at the ticket office Friday afternoon. The big attraction, he said, was the water slides.
“When it’s warmer, the water parks are busier and the piers won’t be,” he said. “But you can always cool off on the roller coasters.”
Myra Dobey, 58, of Mays Landing, took her four grandchildren to Cove Beach on Friday. She sat in her beach chair in the shade of a pine tree as her grandchildren cycled back one-by-one to rest on the blanket or have their lifevest buckled or complain about a lost pair of goggles.
“I like it here,” Dobey said. “I can set up my chair in the shade and watch my grandchildren. I bring a cool drink, and I know the ice cream man’s coming for the kids.”
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