Heat Wave Kills At Least 7, Forces Cancellation of NYC Triathlon; Subway Lines Halted

Ron Brackett and Pam Wright
Published: July 22, 2019

The deadly and dangerous heat wave that enveloped much of the United States over the weekend is being blamed for at least seven deaths.

Three people died in Maryland, two people died in Illinois, one died in Arizona and another died in Arkansas.

Temperatures reached the upper 90s from the Carolinas to Maine on Sunday, and the heat index hit 110 degrees in some places.

"There's no point being out," Washington bus driver Ramieka Darby said while taking a quick break amid temperatures of nearly 100 degrees.

In New York City, Consolidated Edison reported roughly 50,000 customers were without power as of 10 p.m. Sunday because of scattered outages, the vast majority in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, according to the Associated Press.

(MORE: Why Nighttime Temperatures Are Also Dangerous During Heat Waves

Hundreds of outdoor events were canceled across the country, including the New York City Triathlon. Cities offered free admission to municipal pools for sweltering residents.

Pitchfork Music Festival attendees of the first day of the music festival braved record-setting temperatures in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2019.
(Santiago Covarrubias/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

The Pitchfork Music Festival went ahead in Chicago but three air-conditioned "cooling buses" were provided for festival-goers, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Major League Baseball parks also sweltered in the heat. In Cincinnati, "Let It Snow" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" played on the PA system at Great American Ball Park before the Reds played St. Louis. Cubs and Padres fans gave a standing ovation in the seventh inning when the wind suddenly shifted and began blowing in, AP reported.

San Diego Padres' Hunter Renfroe cools off in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, July 20, 2019.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The deaths attributed to the heat wave included that of a hiker on the Billy Goat Trail, a popular trail in the area of Great Falls, Maryland. She suffered a medical emergency, likely brought on by heat, and died on Saturday afternoon, WTOP reported.

Maryland health officials also attributed the deaths of a Prince George's County man and a Worcester County woman to the heat, WBAL reported. Earlier this month, a Baltimore City man and an Anne Arundel County woman died of heat-related illnesses.

The Cook County Medical Examiner confirmed Sunday that two people died of heat-related illnesses in Chicago over the weekend, NBC Chicago reported. Bettye Richmond, 71, and 54-year-old James Alighire died Saturday, the medical examiner's office said. The primary cause of death in both cases was coronary atherosclerosis, the medical examiner's office said, but "heat stress" was a contributing factor in both.

Former New York Giants offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, 32, died Thursday in Arkansas of apparent heat stroke, according to a CBS News report. Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs said the 32-year-old Petrus died Thursday night at a North Little Rock hospital after he had worked outside all day at his family shop.

While not part of the heatwave in the East, the death of an air conditioning technician found dead in the attic of a home in Avondale, Arizona, may have been heat-related, Fox 10 reported. The homeowners became concerned and found the man unresponsive when checking on him 30 minutes after he went up into the attic on Thursday. That's when they called for help.

On Friday, about a third of New York City's subway lines were suspended during the hot evening commute, the Associated Press reported. A computer system failure stranded scores of passengers underground. Others tried to find other ways to get home. Service later resumed on the transportation system that serves more than 5 million people each day.

In some areas, the heat was so intense that roads buckled. A stretch of Interstate 229 was closed in Sioux Falls when the roadway rose up and snapped under the Western Avenue bridge, according to the Associated Press.

A portion of Interstate 229 buckles from high temperatures Friday, July 19, 2019 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
(Makenzie Huber/The Argus Leader via AP)

Extreme heat has caused roads to buckle in Wichita, Kansas, where the temperature reached 100 degrees Wednesday, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Police in Hays, Kansas, also reported cracked and buckled asphalt there.

“The buckling is essentially caused by concrete, which is more rigid than asphalt, expanding to the point it breaks open at a weak point during hot weather,” Tim Potter, a Kansas Department of Transportation spokesman, told the Eagle. “Sometimes, the pressure can cause concrete to explode into the air. The problem also can occur when asphalt is laid over concrete. The dark asphalt absorbs heat and can add to the pressure.”

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