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Summertime heat comes early in East

NEW YORK -- Unofficially, it's summer. Officially, it's hot.

How hot? So hot delivery man Luis Justiniano had to stop Monday and stick his head in the refrigerated cargo section of his truck."It's real bad," he said, mopping the sweat from his brow. "I started work at 6 a.m., and it was bad already."

With the official start of summer two weeks away, the season arrived early from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean as highs climbed into the 90s on Monday across the East. More of the same was in store Tuesday.

On the New York State Thruway, it wasn't the heat, it was the Hondas.

Albany's record 94-degree heat got toll collector Jack Rice in every direction -- from above, reflected by the asphalt below and blasting from the side by the 500 vehicles per hour that revved through his toll plaza on the New York State Thruway.

"I try not to pay attention to the weather," said Rice, a veteran of 12 summers in tiny Thruway booths. "It would be unbearable."

Air conditioners taxed power supplies to the maximum as highs were broken across the Northeast.

Portland, Maine, topped out at 95, a full 10 degrees over the date's record and the hottest day there since July 1995. Harrisburg, Pa., peaked at 96, tying a June 7 record on the books since 1925.

The mercury climbed to 99 degrees at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, breaking the day's old record high of 95 set in 1984. A record high of 96 also was recorded at Atlantic City International Airport.

ISO New England, which manages that region's power supply, issued a power warning, asking consumers to cut their electricity usage and warning that the situation could be worse Tuesday.

New York's Health Department advised residents to avoid direct sun, drink plenty of water and cool down with repeated baths and showers if necessary.

Nearly 172,000 people heeded the advice Monday by heading to the city's seven public beaches, which normally see about 20,000 visitors on a weekday at this time of year.