Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve

A child plays in a waterfall at Yards Park in Washington, DC, July 19, 2019, as an extreme heat wave hits the region. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2019

Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve

  • Utility companies DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said roughly 500,000 customers are still without power after thousands of power lines were downed in a storm that was worst to hit the region

BOSTON: The East Coast on Sunday sweated through another day of extreme heat and humidity as organizers in Boston canceled a benefit run, Delaware Civil War re-enactors got the day off and the New York Police Department implored residents to take it easy.
“Sunday has been canceled,” the NYPD jokingly tweeted . “Stay indoors, nothing to see here. Really, we got this.”
The central part of the country, meanwhile, enjoyed some relief as a cold front moved steadily southward and eastward across the country, bringing down the temperatures. But the cooler weather settling in Monday and Tuesday is also bringing severe storms packed with powerful winds and heavy rains that have already caused damage in the Midwest. The National Weather Service warns flash flooding might be possible in some areas.
From the Carolinas to Maine, daytime highs reached the upper 90s Sunday. Coupled with high humidity, temperatures felt as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in places.
“There’s no point being out,” Washington, D.C., bus driver Ramieka Darby remarked while taking a quick break amid temperatures of nearly 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
Nearby, Jack Ogten was among a steady stream of tourists milling around outside the White House. Undeterred by the stifling heat, the resident of the Netherlands joked he’d lost about 22 pounds (10 kilograms) from sweating after just one day of sightseeing.
In New York City, where all eyes were on the power grid even before the hot weather following a Manhattan blackout last weekend, electricity company Con Ed reported roughly 46,000 customers were without power as of 9 p.m. Sunday because of scattered outages, the vast majority in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Con Ed said it reduced voltage by 8% in those areas to maintain service as repairs are made and asked those customers to turn off non-essential appliances to conserve power.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the “accumulated heat and strain from the past few days has built up in the electrical equipment.”
The city also directed office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees (26 degrees Celsius) through Sunday to reduce strain on its electrical grid. A day earlier, a commemoration of the 1969 moon landing planned for Times Square and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe and musician John Legend were nixed due to the heat.
In Boston, Sunday’s heat prompted cancelation of the annual Jimmy Fund 5K cancer benefit race as well as a popular Sunday market in the city’s South End. City officials also once again opened up city pools free to residents as the temperature topped 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) for the third consecutive day.
And police in one Boston suburb posted a tongue-in-cheek request on their Facebook page. “Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday,” Braintree police wrote Friday. “Conducting criminal activity, in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous.”
In Pennsylvania, nine firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and six transported to a hospital for treatment while fighting a house fire in sweltering conditions Saturday. Several hundred people were also evacuated from a retirement community Saturday because of a power outage that may have been heat-related.
In New Hampshire, rescue crews helped a 29-year-old hiker late Saturday after he was overcome by the heat in the White Mountain National Forest.
In New Jersey, the Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River was closed Saturday evening after it got stuck open. Monmouth County officials say heat caused expansion of the metal encasing the drawbridge, which is a popular route for residents and beachgoers.
The heat even prompted Delaware officials to close Fort Delaware State Park, which served as a Union prison camp during the Civil War. Temperatures were simply too high for costumed interpreters who wear wool garb to work safely this weekend, officials said.
The National Weather Service reported high temperatures for July 20 were recorded Saturday at its weather stations in Atlantic City, New Jersey, New York City, Westfield, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Wallops Island, Virginia.
The heat relented early Sunday in the northern reaches of New England.
A Canadian cold front brought thunderstorms Saturday evening that dropped temperatures across northern Vermont and upstate New York. A heat advisory remained in effect for southern sections of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for much of the day, however.
And in many parts of the country, it’s not expected to get much better when the sun goes down: temperatures are expected to remain at or above the high 70s overnight (26 degrees Celsius).
Meanwhile, parts of the Midwest are dealing with the effects of damaging winds and rain that swooped in with the cold front that’s breaking up the heat wave.
In Milwaukee, utility crews restored power to more than 48,000 customers in the eastern part of the state. But around 56,000 customers were still without power Sunday after more than 700 wires, 50 power poles and over 600 trees or branches were taken down in thunderstorms, officials said.
In Michigan, power might not be restored for everyone until Tuesday.
Utility companies DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said roughly 500,000 customers are still without power after thousands of power lines were downed in a storm that was worst to hit the region since 2017.


India might resort to covert operations: Pakistan FM

Updated 17 August 2019

India might resort to covert operations: Pakistan FM

  • Qureshi praised the Security Council’s call to all parties to refrain from action that could aggravate the situation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned that India might resort to a “false flag operation” to divert attention from Jammu and Kashmir following a UN Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.

“To divert international attention, most probably India will resort to some false flag operation. We want to tell the international community that we have doubts about India’s intentions. We know their plans and the nation is ready for it,” he said.

In a letter to the Security Council on Aug. 13, Qureshi asked for an urgent meeting on Jammu and Kashmir after its special autonomous status was revoked by India. Indian-administered Kashmir has remained under lockdown, with phone and internet services suspended since the decision on Aug. 5.

Following the Security Council meeting Qureshi addressed a joint press conference with Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, who said that Islamabad was ready to “defend any misadventures on the part of India.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Office had formed a special committee to discuss future action on the issue, Qureshi said.

Kashmir desks will be established at various Pakistani embassies around the world “in order to carry out effective communication on the matter,” he said.

“The committee on Kashmir has members from all concerned parties, including members of opposition parties.” 

Qureshi praised the Security Council’s call to all parties to refrain from action that could aggravate the situation.

“We achieved a milestone yesterday, which shocked India. The Kashmir issue was raised at a platform which is responsible for resolving the dispute,” he said.

The foreign minister commended the “indomitable and unbroken spirit” of residents in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying that despite the curfew Kashmiris came out of their houses on Friday to offer special prayers.

“It was a glimpse into their emotions, into what it will be like after the curfew lifts,” he said.

Qureshi said that world bodies have responded positively to Pakistan’s call to discuss the issue. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called for an immediate end to the curfew,” he said.

Discussing India’s move to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, Qureshi said: “Pakistan does not recognize Article 370 of the Indian constitution, it is not our concern. Our concern is with the forceful change in Kashmir’s demographic and violation of the rights of the people of Kashmir.”

Meanwhile, Ghafoor said that the Pakistan army will respond to any act of aggression by India.

“Pakistan is a responsible state, but India has always threatened us. We are planning how to manage the threats from India,” he said.

“At present, the biggest issue in Jammu and Kashmir is human rights violations. The entire region has been turned into a prison,” Ghafoor said.

A former Pakistani ambassador to India, Abdul Basit, backed the foreign minister’s covert operation claim, saying that amid growing international pressure a staged terrorist attack by India could be used to divert attention from Jammu and Kashmir.

He said any direct attack on Pakistan by India would be a huge mistake. “They (India) might have worked out their strategies, but when the situation is so tense, it would not be wise to open another front. The situation will be clearer after the curfew is lifted, but I don’t see direct conflict anytime soon.”

Basit urged Pakistan to arrange an OIC foreign ministers summit in Islamabad as quickly as possible.

“Along with the summit, Pakistan should also hold a convention of Kashmiri diaspora in London or somewhere that can come up with a resolution. Pakistan should also deploy a special envoy on Kashmir,” he said.