Record-setting heat wave nearly over in NJ

July 24, 2011 6:03:05 PM PDT
A record-setting heat wave that had baked New Jersey in recent days gave the state a parting shot on Sunday, as another round of oppressive heat and high humidity created almost unbearable conditions and caused major problems at a large music festival.

But forecasters said some relief was moving in Sunday night, as cooler air started to arrive along with some severe thunderstorms.

And Monday's highs were only expected to reach the upper 80s, ending a stretch of several record-setting days where temperatures had soared near - and often past - 100 degrees.

The heat caused dozens of fans - mostly teenagers and young adults - to suffer heat exhaustion and related health problems after they were overcome Sunday afternoon while attending the Vans Warped Tour, an outdoor music festival being staged at Monmouth Park in Oceanport. Some fans were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, but officials said all those affected by the heat were expected to fully recover.

Temperatures there had climbed into the mid 90's by early Sunday afternoon, while the heat index ranged between 100 to 105 degrees.

No other major problems were reported Sunday, as most New Jerseyans again found ways to beat the heat. Some chose to stay home, while others traveled to malls and movie theaters or hit beaches along the Jersey Shore, which were packed with people.

Most, though, were thrilled to hear of the heat wave's pending demise.

"I will be so happy to hear my air conditioner shut off. I swear it hasn't stopped running since Wednesday," Diane Warren said as she headed into a convenience store in Hamilton Township (Mercer County). "It'll also be nice to be outdoors again and not feel like I'm in a steambath."

Despite the improving conditions, state emergency management officials were still urging residents to drink plenty of water and asked that they check in on elderly relatives and neighbors and those with special medical needs. They also reminded residents to call the state's 211 help line if they need to find cooling centers or other heat-related information.

No deaths have been reported in New Jersey since the heat wave began, though many people have been hospitalized with heat-related illnesses. And while thousands had lost power in various outages blamed on the heat in recent days, officials said the power grid still appeared to be in good shape and only sporadic outages were being reported Sunday night.

However, residents were still being asked to avoid any unnecessary power usage, such as doing laundry or leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms. And water utilities also urged residents to keep conserving and refrain from outdoor watering.