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Summer? Northeast enduring ‘cool wave’

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NEW YORK — The sky was low and gray and mist fell Sunday as one of the region's coolest, dampest Julys on record shrugged toward a close.

"I don't like it. It's supposed to be hot," Nelson Payne said Sunday as he walked to work at a Manhattan hotel.

At what should be one of the hottest times of the year, the temperature barely made it to 72 Sunday in Central Park.

"It's cold most of the year," Payne complained. "If it were sunny today, I'd go to the beach."

While the South had a wilting heat wave for part of the month, it was only the second time in 100 years that July has passed in New York without the mercury ever reaching 90 degrees, meteorologists say. The average was 72.54 degrees, not even up to the long-term average of 76.8.

That's in sharp contrast with July 1999 — which had 18 days over 90 and two days above 100.

And while normal July rainfall is 4.35 inches, the city had already totaled 6.9 inches by Sunday. Last year's toasty warm July eked out only 0.44 of one inch.

A possibility of thunderstorms or showers was forecast through Wednesday.

The cool weather isn't universally disliked.

"We've had a really good season," candy store owner Joanne Graff told the Glens Falls Post Star in upstate New York. "Rainy, cold weather is better for us. If it's really, really warm you aren't going to buy a pound of chocolate — it will melt."

And in Manhattan, where sidewalks and buildings radiate heat in hot weather, tourists didn't much mind Sunday's conditions.

"Actually, it's better for walking around the city," said Christine Stokoe, visiting from Rhode Island with her husband and three children.

While hotter parts of the nation have seen air conditioners straining local utilities, the blah summer in the Northeast has held down the demand for electricity. Consolidated Edison said peak usage so far in New York City this year was back on June 26.

This year's rainfall also has helped areas in the central Appalachians that had a drought last year, filling rivers used by whitewater rafters in West Virginia.

"This is one of the best seasons for rafting in years," said Paul Breur, owner of Mountain River Tours at Hico, W.Va.