JONATHAN LEMIRE | AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- A punishing heat wave scorched New York from Buffalo to Brooklyn for yet another day Friday, threatening heat records, putting an historic strain on power companies and sending sunbaked residents scrambling to stay cool.
The heat index at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City hit a staggering 107 degrees at 1 p.m. Friday, the highest mark yet during the six-day heat wave that has gripped the Northeast. Manhattan's Central Park sweltered for a sixth straight day over 90 degrees, and recorded a low temperature late Thursday of just 81 degrees, the highest low mark since 1900, according to the National Weather Service.
And as New Yorkers cranked their air conditioners, energy company Con Edison broke a mark for most peak electricity usage. The utility used 13,214 megawatts at 2 p.m., topping the old mark of 13,189 from July 22, 2011.
The state also set a power record, according to the New York Independent System Operator.
Thousands of people in the Bronx lost power late Thursday, but most customers — except for a few scattered outages in Queens — had electricity by Friday afternoon, the utility reported. A spokesman for Con Edison urged residents to conserve power for fear of triggering brownouts.
Liz Nielsen, who works at Manhattan's David Zwirner art gallery, found a high-tech way to beat the heat: she used a smartphone app to summon Uber, a taxi company that, for a day, was also delivering ice cream.
"It's just so hot. I keep wandering around thinking, where is the oxygen today?" asked Nielson. "I like 'on demand' ice cream, especially when it's this hot. I'm sure a lot of people want it right now. We got lucky."
New York City's Department of Homeless Services added more outreach teams to persuade the homeless to leave the baking streets, while Meals-on-Wheels delivered extra water to the elderly and frail. An air quality alert was issued for New York City and Long Island, while Amtrak trains traveling to Manhattan's Penn Station were delayed for hours after the heat caused track issues throughout New England.
Residents of updates New York did not fare much better.
Greg Simonick, a landscaper in Buffalo, said he'd frequently walk through sprinklers while toiling outside, but would still need to seek refuge indoors every 30 minutes or so.
"I come in the building, find the coolest room and lay on the floor. The tiles are cooler than anything," he said. "I can't complain about hot because it could be blizzarding."
Saratoga Race Course opened as planned for the debut day of the thoroughbred racing season, but extra precautions were in place to take care of the horses. Veterinarians were stationed on the paths while extra ice buckets and water were placed in the jockeys' quarters.
Some relief is on the way, meteorologists said. Though temperatures are forecast to hit the 90s again on Saturday, a cold front that night, with the potential to produce severe thunderstorms, is expected to send temperatures throughout the region dropping to the mid-80s on Sunday.
Associated Press writers Bethan McKernan and Kiley Armstrong in New York, Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo and Rik Stevens in Albany contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
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