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Communities On Alert Amid More Extreme Heat

Composite Image by Dave Lucas
"With extreme heat in the forecast, I urge New Yorkers to take the necessary precautions to stay cool and safe." ~ Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Communities in our region are bracing for another heatwave.

With forecasts for another three days or more of temperatures above 90 degrees, Governor Andrew Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to take precautions ahead of potentially dangerous heat conditions affecting the southern Capital Region, Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island through Tuesday. Heat advisories are also up in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.

Troy is among the local municipalities opening cooling stations and turning on splash pads to help residents stay cool. John Salka is Mayor Patrick Madden's Deputy Director of Public Information.  "The city of Troy has activated cooling stations in four neighborhood locations, beginning today 1 o'clock until 7 p.m. in our Lansingburgh neighborhood at the 120th Street park. In Little Italy at the Little Italy Marketplace, which is at the intersection of Liberty and Hill Streets; at the 7th Avenue Park in North Central Neighborhood, which is at Ingalls Avenue and 7th Avenue and at South Troy at the Canal Street Park, 3rd Street and Canal Avenue. Splash pads are open to the public at various city parks including Frear Park, Prospect Park, Knickerbocker Park and Riverfront Park."

Salka says the cooling stations and splash pads are well-attended on days like this. "Residents are asked to reduce strenuous activity. Limit that activity to the early morning or evening hours and to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during the warmest periods of the day. Residents are also asked to check on neighbors, including the elderly, sick, disabled and those with young children, during the heat."

  • The New York State Department of Health has created an online list of cooling centers where people can cool down on days of extreme temperatures. A list of addresses and phone numbers for cooling centers shared by local health departments and emergency management offices in each region is available here.

Alex Marra is CEO of Hudson Valley Weather:   "We’ve been in this tropi pattern for the past three weeks where we've had tropical moisture just kinda streaming up and every once in a while high pressure builds back in, and every time the high pressure builds back in you go back into this pattern that's been broken again by heat and then days of rain. Rare? Maybe, you know, something that's never happened before? It's absolutely happened before in the past. It's just a matter of these patterns that we get locked in and how long they last and usually it takes a big system to break the pattern."

Marra says the successive heatwaves may be atypical abut are not unprecedented. He adds while the abundant rain and high humidity have been good for gardeners, the weather's behavior hasn't been kind to trees.  "When we got to that middle of July time frame, I started to get a little bit concerned as we barely recorded any rain. And what I was starting to notice is some of the birch trees and some of the maple trees were actually at the defense, starting to shed leaves. Like they actually started to show fall colors. But of course you know in July, we shouldn't be seeing fall colors. in reality it simply was just the trees were starting to go into protective mode, you know, limiting the amount of water they were getting by shedding some of their foliage, so we did see some trees and some other plants go into sort of a defense mode, and the all of a sudden the switch got flipped, and now, a ton of rain. So now it's almost the opposite. So we had stress from dryness and now we're seeing the trees get stressed from being overwatered. We have seen some of that in the mountains. i saw some down here, I'm probably at 8 or 900 feet at the base of the Catskills. Up on the mountains it's even worse."

  • For a complete list of all available swim locations and places to cool off please visit www.parks.ny.gov and select a state park near you.

Looking ahead, Marra expects a warmer, wetter autumn followed by a snowier winter.

Heat Tips

Excessive heat is the leading cause of preventable, weather-related deaths each year, particularly among the elderly. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat causes more than 600 preventable deaths in the United States yearly. To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat the Governor offered the following tips:

People Who Should Be Aware:

  • Elderly persons and small children are mostly affected
  • Persons with weight or alcohol problems are very susceptible to heat reactions
  • Persons on certain medications or drugs

Be Prepared:

  • Slow down on strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Exercise should be done in the early morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. 
  • Eat less protein and more fruits and vegetables. Protein produces and increases metabolic heat, which causes water loss. Eat small meals, but eat more often. Do not eat salty foods
  • Drink at least two to four glasses of water per hour during extreme heat, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine
  • If possible, stay out of the sun and stay in air conditioning. The sun heats the inner core of your body, resulting in dehydration. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a public building with air conditioning
  • If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body
  • Do not leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or vehicle during periods of intense summer heat. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill within a matter of minutes
  • Make an effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are elderly, have young children or have special needs
  • Make sure there is enough food and water for pets

Know the Signs of Heat Related Illness:

Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. Call 911 if you or someone you know shows signs or symptoms of heat illness, including:

  • Headache
  • Light headedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

For more information on how to stay safe during periods of excessive heat, click here.

Water Safety

Boaters should make sure to take proper safety precautions when enjoying the many boating opportunities New York State has to offer. The State Parks Marine Services Bureau offers the following safety tips.

Boaters are reminded to practice safe and responsible boating, including:

  • Wear a personal floatation device whenever they are on the water. State law requires that children under age 12 wear a personal flotation device while on a watercraft;
  • Complete a safe boating course;
  • Properly equip and inspect their vessel;
  • Maintain a prudent speed;
  • Refrain from mixing alcohol with boating; and
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out on the water to learn about potential storms and seek immediate shelter on shore if thunder is audible.

People paddling canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards should know their abilities and take precautions when there are high or steady winds creating large waves, or when they are in strong currents. Paddlers in waters where there are motorboats should keep close to shorelines and out of main channels.

For more information about boating safety, including listings of boating safety courses, and marine recreation in New York State, click here.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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