NEW YORK - Temperatures hit the high 90s along the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday, setting records in spots, as a hot spell heralded the official start of summer, with people wilting at graduation ceremonies, students trying to learn in suffocating classrooms and authorities warning folks to check on elderly neighbors.
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature was a record 98 degrees at LaGuardia and Newark airports in the New York City area. Records were also set in several New England cities.
In Boston, it felt like 100 with humidity but was 93. In Washington, it felt like 101 but was 97.
With another day of high temperatures expected today, health officials warned residents to drink water, stay out of the sun and in air conditioning, and to check on elderly neighbors and pets.
Public cooling centers were set up in dozens of cities for those without air conditioning.
Several relatives of high school graduates were treated for heat exhaustion at an outdoor ceremony in North Bergen, N.J., and taken to a hospital.
A similar scene took place in New Britain, Conn., where several people were taken to a hospital after suffering heat-related symptoms while attending the New Britain High School graduation.
New York City's 1.1 million public school students are in session for another week, and just 64 percent of classrooms are air-conditioned.
In a rare bending of the rules, the Metro in Washington, D.C., said passengers Wednesday and today would be allowed to drink water, an exception to their no-drinks policy.
Every state in the Lower 48 except for North Dakota was forecast to have 90-degree weather until Saturday, according to a model by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.