NEW YORK — It's blistering. Scorching. Steamy. Brutal. Baking. Torrid. Ovenlike. It's run-out-of-adjectives hot.
"A volcano — that's what it feels like to me," said Wayne Reid, mopping his brow and swigging bottled water after walking three blocks to a New York subway station Wednesday morning. He was dressed for the heat — already a sticky 90 degrees and headed into triple digits — in shorts and a tank top, but it didn't matter.
Heat waves are more oppressive in big cities, because concrete, asphalt and steel absorb more solar energy during the day and release it slowly after the sun goes down, offering people little relief at night.
In the nation's biggest city of them all, Wall Streeters are sweltering in business suits on subway platforms, senior citizens are schlepping to the grocery store on streets that seem like frying pans, and New Yorkers overall are handling it by doing what they do best: coping, with a little complaining thrown in.
Not that New Yorkers, on the fourth day of a record-breaking heat wave stifling much of the Eastern Seaboard, were suffering alone.
With triple-digit highs recorded from New York to Charlotte, N.C., roads buckled, nursing homes with air-conditioning problems were forced to evacuate, and utilities called for conservation as the electrical grid neared its capacity.
New York, where many buildings predate the age of climate control and many people don't have cars, is not for the faint of hot. The mercury hit 100 by 3 p.m. Wednesday after topping out at 103 on Tuesday.
"When I get up, I feel like I could shower all the time," Jeffrey Boone said Wednesday as he walked to a gym from his un-air-conditioned Manhattan apartment. He has a window fan, but it is not up to the task of 80-degree nights or triple-digit days.
"What can we do? We survive," said Boone, a security guard.