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Heat wave pressures power grid, and takes a toll on people

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The East has been roasting. The likelihood of just mid-80s tomorrow sounds downright delectable after four days of a steamy heat wave.

The National Weather Service forecasts less brutal heat throughout the region, though it's still likely to be uncomfortably humid.

As the heat and humidity of this "Bermuda high" continue, so does the heat warning from the weather service. Today's warning remains in effect until 8 tonight. As Jonathan Brown reports, the hot spell is taking a toll.

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The weather is making people sick. Heat stroke, heat cramps, fatigue and dizziness have been on the rise the past few sunny, hot days. Glens Falls Hospital spokesman Phil Kahn says more people are seeking emergency treatment: "We have seen increased traffic in our emergency care center but not necessarily a significant amount of folks, although it's still an increase from what we typically see and it's not unusual, of course, with the way the temperatures have been soaring."

It hit 95 in the shade over the past few days in the Glens Falls area--and across much of northern New York. Air conditioners and fans have been humming around the clock. Courtney Quatrino at National Grid says demand for electricity is breaking records. "Between 2 pm and 3 pm yesterday the demand for electricity soared to 6804 megawatts, which surpassed the all-time high set by National Grid's upstate New York customers back on August 2nd of 2006," Quatrino noted.

She says the electric company has enough energy and the area's power grid is performing well--even at times of peak demand. Still, she recommends reducing pressure on the grid by raising air-conditioners to their highest comfortable temperature. She says this is also a good way to lower your electric bill: "For example a 75 degree setting will cost you about 18% more than a 78 degree setting on your air conditioning unit."

It appears our high temperatures will soon top out around 78 degrees. National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Neilson says the high-pressure system responsible for this heat is starting to break up and head out to sea. But we'll still have one more hot day across northern New York and Vermont: "A little more cloud cover today ahead of a front which is coming down from southeastern Canada and there's also a low off-shore so we'll kind of be in a squeeze play and we'll probably be looking at some rain relief late in the day Friday and into Saturday. You're probably looking at mid-to-upper 70s and lower 80s for highs," he predicts.

This may be welcome relief to people that spend large parts of their day outside--especially construction workers and farmers. It will allow Sean Ferguson, with L and L Construction, to get back to a more regular schedule. He's part of a team of workers that put new exterior doors on a dorm on the St Lawrence University campus yesterday. "It's not bad, we start earlier and get done earlier," Ferguson said. "Today we started at six and we're done by 2:30 just as the heat's really starting to come around. That's not too bad Normal 0 false false false   MicrosoftInternetExplorer4   --it's better than being cold!"

The cool water of the Grasse River was on lots of peoples' minds as they hit Canton's town beach. Katie Basham was on lifeguard duty yesterday as cars and bikes started rolling in. She says it's been a really popular spot lately:

"It's been extremely crowded. July 4th was one of our busiest days and the holiday after was right up with it. We've had 150 people here, not all at once, but there around 50 people in the water so it gets pretty busy. We're trying to [keep cool]--we've got a big umbrella and lots of sunblock."

That may prove the place to be again today as the mercury rises once more close to 90 across northern New York.

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