'Too hot, too soon' -- Plains, East see record temps

Thursday, April 18, 2002

BOSTON -- Summerlike heat baked the eastern third of the country again Wednesday, toppling more records and sending people outside in search of sun -- and relief.

"Whatever is cold is flying out the door," said Barbara Fingold, a co-owner of Bart's Homemade ice cream parlor in Northampton. She figured she was filling 40 ice cream cones every hour.

It felt like July, not mid-April. As Phoenix, Miami and San Antonio all hit the low 80s, Boston hit a record high of 92 degrees and Springfield sweltered at 95. Concord, N.H., posted a record 91 and Portland, Maine, a record 80. Albany, N.Y., posted 91, the earliest recorded 90-degree temperature there. New York and Newark, N.J., both had a record of 96 and Philadelphia hit 95. It was 94 in the nation's capital.

The unseasonable warmth stretched from the Midwest to southern Maine, where the Portland beaches played host to people in swimsuits before the mercury dropped into the 50s.

Along the upper Great Lakes, snow melting rapidly under the hot sun caused flooding in northern sections of Wisconsin and Michigan.

The heat didn't help business at Ed Claiborne's Red Deluxe hot dog stand in downtown Richmond, Va.

"I typically look forward to spring-like weather because that's when people come out to eat outside," Claiborne said. "Right now, it's too hot for people to come outside."

Brian McFarland sat with his sleeves rolled up and sweat on his brow as he waited with his wife and two children for friends to pick them up for a cruise of Boston Harbor.

"This is a major bonus. We were skiing last week," said McFarland, 37, of Kingfield in northern Maine.

"Too hot," puffed 8-year-old son Dylan.

Leona Williams, shopping in Philadelphia for summer clothes for her children, said she was enjoying the heat -- to a point.

"Winter was so mild it was almost like spring, and now it looks like spring's going to be like summer," Williams said. "It's very strange."

The late afternoon sun was so hot in Manhattan that Theresa Hudec said her 10-minute wait for a bus home felt like an hour.

"It came too hot, too soon," she said. "If it's like this now, what's going to happen in July and August?"

Cooler weather was advancing across the northern Plains and was expected to reach the Northeast during the weekend.

School was let out early Tuesday at Glidden, Wis., so youngsters could help sandbag low-lying areas along the Chippewa River.

In Milwaukee, the death of a 50-year-old man was blamed on the heat, though authorities said he was taking medicine that increased his health risk.

On the Camden, N.J., waterfront, students on a class trip fanned themselves while walking to the Amistad, a replica slave ship. Across the Delaware River, a summer-like and soupy haze hung over Philadelphia.

"If this is a premonition of the summer, I'm worried," said Bobbie Beebe of Morrisville, Pa., sweat beading on her arms and legs as she rested from cutting grass at a church in Hopewell, N.J. "It's too early for this."

On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov

Intellicast: http://www.intellicast.com

University of Michigan site: http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet

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