Yesterday was hot. It is still hot today and it will be hot again tomorrow.
Notice a trend?
Experts — including Climate Central, a Princeton-based non-profit weather research organization — say this year has been the hottest in the contiguous United States since records started being kept in 1895. And the National Weather Service predicts that the temperatures will remain warmer than normal throughout the summer.
“We’ve been pretty much above normal for the whole year so far,” said Patrick O’Hara, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. “We consider the summer to be June, July and August. So we’ll have to wait to see where this summer places historically. But it certainly has been hot.”
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for South Jersey again Tuesday when O’Hara said temperatures at the Atlantic City International Airport reached 99 degrees, breaking the date’s previous record high of 97 degrees set in 2006.
Approximately 24,800 high temperatures had already been broken this year, Climate Central said in a release Tuesday, as record high temperatures have outpaced record lows by nearly a 10 to 1 margin.
As expected, thousands of people tried to beat the heat by flocking to the beach. But even that proved to offer only limited relief for much of the day.
“We’re not going to the beach until later, after it cools down a little,” said Michael Levach, 45, of Hamilton, Mercer County, while vacating in Ocean City with his family.
Levach said he spent the day strolling with his wife along Asbury Avenue where they could easily escape the heat by ducking into the air conditioned shops. His daughters — Olivia, 18, and Mariah, 16 — meanwhile, spent the day riding go-carts and sitting inside with the air conditioning.
“We also sat on the porch for a little bit, because it’s shaded and there’s a little bit of a breeze today,” Olivia Levach said. “It’s really too hot to do anything else.”
As a result of the excess heat and an anticipated increased demand for electricity, Atlantic City Electric asked all of its customers to conserve energy by taking steps such as setting their thermostats to 78 degrees, turning off nonessential utilities and not using high-energy appliances until the evening hours.
“This is something we typically only do in the hottest weather conditions,” Atlantic City Electric Spokesman Bill Yingling said.
However, some people dealing with Tuesday’s heat were less than eager to conserve energy.
“What’s the point?” asked Tyler Matthew, 19, of Robbinsville, Mercer County. “It’s so hot, if you set your thermostat at 78 you’ll just end up turning it back down to get it to be cool enough?”
But even though the Atlantic City Electric said it had sufficient power supply to meet the high demand, Yingling said excessive heat can cause other problems that could lead to power outages.
“When the temperature is high, customers like to run their air conditioning and that increases the demand on the system. It increases the amount of electricity going through the wire and increases the amount of electricity the power plants need to produce,” Yingling said.
“When the system is strained, there is a higher likelihood of outages occurring. So asking our customers to conserve helps us to moderate the demand.”
Accuweather is forecasting highs to reach the mid 90s again on Wednesday and that a strong thunderstorm could pass through the region later in the day. O’Hara said the heat index will again exceed 100 degrees.
“Tuesday and Wednesday will probably be the worst days,” O’Hara said. “But after the front goes through Wednesday, it will drop to about 91 on Thursday and then stay in the upper 80s the rest of the week.”
But “the rest of the week” is too late for some.
“We’ll be gone by then,” said Kathryn Mitros, 36, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., while on vacation in Ocean City on Tuesday afternoon with her 9-year-old daughter, Sydney.
Sydney spent the morning crabbing on the water, but otherwise their family had been in the in the pool and in the air conditioning — until they hit the beach Tuesday afternoon armed with towels and boogie boards.
“We tried to go up on the Boardwalk earlier, but the heat was just too oppressive. So we’re going to give it a shot now,” Mitros said. “I guess it’s supposed to be hot in the summer. So it definitely feels like summer.”
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