Sweating Northeasterners fled to the beaches, played in fountains and lined up for ice cream cones, cold sodas and air conditioners in an effort to fight muggy air and record heat Saturday.
Bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan were packed with beachgoers. In Philadelphia, 100 children and adults splashed in a fountain. Cold soda sales were good; canoe and bike rentals, and anything else that required exertion, bad.
The weather pattern that brought the Gulf of Mexico's swampy heat to the Northeast had caused heavy rain and tornadoes from Texas to Wisconsin earlier in the week. In Oklahoma, where floods were receding, officials said damage could reach $20 million.
Hotter Than Desert
Northern New Jersey was hotter than the desert Southwest or any other part of the nation, with a record 98-degree reading at Newark. In New York the mercury reached 97, snapping the record of 92 set one year ago.
A 92-year-old record fell in Washington when the temperature hit 97, and a 93-degree reading broke a 58-year-old record in Windsor Locks, Conn. High-temperature records also tumbled in Alpena, Mich., Allentown, Pa., and Youngstown and Mansfield, Ohio.
The heat and humidity created scattered thunderstorms that dropped rain and hail across wide areas of the Midwest. Lightning caused some ground fires in Edinboro, Pa., and 55-m.p.h. winds felled power lines in Ohio's Lorain County.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms stretched across south and east-central Texas. An unusual Saturday school session was held for students in Bandera County, Tex., after floods forced the postponement of the last day of classes on Friday.
15 Planes Damaged
Strong winds Saturday at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport caused an estimated $150,000 to $250,000 in damage to 15 planes.
Elsewhere, a tropical depression with 35-m.p.h. winds and rain moved across the Bahamas and brushed the Florida coast, but it was expected to fizzle out as it pushed over land.
Residents of Pauls Valley, Okla., woke up Saturday to find dirt-laden Washita River water swirling waist-deep through town. About 400 National Guardsmen held back sightseers after two drivers collided, causing five injuries.
Youngsters rode rubber rafts along city streets. The Red Cross reported that four homes were destroyed and 950 others were damaged.
In Michigan, farmers worried about animal fatigue and dehydration. Ward Sundberg, a store manager in Houghton, said many residents headed for Lake Superior, which warms only to the 50s.
Symbol Lost to Wind
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire lost a symbol Friday when the 300-year-old Council Oak crashed down in a burst of high wind.
Those who did not head for the hills turned up the air conditioners. Consolidated Edison reported its highest ever electric use for May on Friday, and Connecticut utilities were trying to assure an adequate power supply for Monday, when office air conditioners will pull more juice.
Evelyn Behrend, manager of West Side Air Conditioning, said her products were selling fast. Ice cream cones were another popular item, and parlors reported lines stretching out the door.
There was a shortage of romantic rides in Manhattan because carriage owners had to keep their horses stabled due to a law that mandates time off when the thermometer goes over 90 degrees.