Mercury tops 90 throughout Northeast

Temperatures hit the 90s from Maryland to Rhode Island on Tuesday as Northeasterners coming off a chilly, wet April dealt with a sizzling, muggy May.

Utilities braced for extra use as people turned on air conditioners and schools without them sent children home. Relief was on the way; forecasters predicted cooler weather later this week.

That was little consolation to Rick Massott and John Novak, who replaced bricks and mortar outside a building in Philadelphia

''It gets hot, yeah, but you've got to make money,'' Massott said.

The ice industry has been booming for the past week in South Philadelphia.

''It's unbelievable - very, very busy. Lines all the way to the end of the street,'' said Lori Gejer, who with her brother owns a Rita's Water Ice store.

Afternoon temperatures were 91 in New York, 92 in Newark, N.J., 91 in Providence, R.I. With the heat index, it felt like 98 in Wrightstown, N.J.

PJM Interconnection Association, a pool that coordinates power transmission for the mid-Atlantic region, was looking for ways to back up its reserves Tuesday. The grid supplies PECO Energy Co. and other power providers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of Virginia.

Portsmouth, Va., officials, where 13 schools don't have conditioning, decided to send those students home early Tuesday.

''It's warm,'' said Barbara J. Jones-Smith, the principal at Douglass Park Elementary School. ''And we don't perform well when it's warm.''

The hot weather meant brisk sales for air conditioners. The Sears store at Eastpoint Mall in Baltimore had only about 50 of their stock of 250 left, but 250 more were to be delivered Tuesday night.

''With all the sales, you would think everyone owned one by now,'' manager Jeff Myers said.

Temperatures were to cool later in the week, with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 50s.

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