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Heatwave cooks Eastern US

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- Another wave of oppressive heat clamped down on a broad swath of Eastern states on Saturday, with temperatures in the high 90s and 100s and residents scrambling for shade or just staying indoors.

In the Mid-Atlantic, already the locus for brutal temperatures several times in July, weather experts warned of the dangerous conditions and residents resigned themselves to coping with the discomfort.

''Oh, it's disgusting. It's already really hot,'' meteorologist Heather Sheffield of the National Weather Service said of morning temperatures in Washington, D.C.

One possible weather-related death was reported in Maryland, where paramedics said the high temperatures and humidity likely played a role in the death of a 20-year-old man who was biking, went into cardiac arrest and hit his head on a tree as he fell.

With the heat and humidity combining for a possible heat index of more than 110 degrees, the weather service issued an excessive heat warning for the first time this year for an area stretching from south of Washington to north of Baltimore, along the Interstate 95 corridor. By midday Saturday, a wide band from lower New England to the Deep South was under a heat advisory.

The thermometer hit 100 degrees in Washington and Baltimore by mid-afternoon, where the heat index was 109. In Norfolk, Va., it was 104 degrees and 108 degrees with the heat index. Elsewhere, temperatures reached 95 degrees in New York City and 96 in Philadelphia. Demand for electricity that rises with the temperatures falls when businesses and offices are closed on the weekend, and many utilities said they could meet the demand.

As temperatures soared toward 100 degrees in New Jersey, Harry Oliver was trying to make sense of it all as he waited to get sandwiches inside a Toms River convenience store.

''When I complain about the heat and humidity, my wife reminds me that I was begging for this type of weather when I was shoveling all that snow this past winter,'' the 47-year-old Lakehurst resident said. ''Now I'm looking forward to the snow again.''

Oliver said he and his wife didn't want to cook. ''It's hot enough in the house already, even with my air conditioning running 24/7,'' he said.

In New York City, the heat brought out the inner entrepreneur in one resident.

A.J. Ousmane, 27, a native of the West African nation of Mali, sold ice-cold water bottles for $1 from a cooler on a Harlem sidewalk. He planned to stay out all afternoon, and hoped to make about $55 for the day, after expenses.

''I keep moving with the shade,'' he said, as he positioned himself in the creeping shadow of a coin-operated laundry.

Poolside, 20-year-old Meredith Watkins slathered herself with SPF 15 and filled her water bottle before working a shift as a lifeguard in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Watkins scouted the swimming pool for an excuse to jump in -- something she says she does at least once an hour on hot days.

''You still gotta do your job when it's this hot,'' she said, twirling a whistle on a red lanyard.