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June 10, 2008
Update: Season's first heat wave nets record temp
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
Children cool off in the water of an open fire hydrant on the corner of Sumter and Hamilton Streets in the Elmwood section of Providence this afternoon.
We did it again.
The record for the high temperature in Providence for this day has fallen.
Set in 1974, the old record was 94 degrees. At 2:16 p.m., a new record of 96 degrees was recorded, according to the National Weather Service.
It also was the third day of temps 90 or greater, making it the first official heat wave of this year, according to the service. The previous heat wave was Aug. 2-4 of last year.
Yesterday, the record for high temperatures for the date was also broken -- twice.
By 3:05 p.m., the Providence area had tied, then broke, then broke again a record high for the date of 95 degrees, set in 1984. The second high temperature of the day hit 97 degrees.
Hot-weather records were broken today across Southern New England, according to a late-afternoon summary from the National Weather Service.
Don't despair. Cooler air is on the way.
As of 6:25 p.m., it was down 10 degrees from the day's high, to 86.
Tonight, the weather service says there's a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after midnight. A cold front should move in overnight, bringing much-needed relief.
Tomorrow, the weather service forecasters write, will be "a gem of a day."
Here's the forecast:
Sunny. Highs in the upper 80s. Northwest winds around 10 mph. Gusts up to 20 mph in the morning.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts at projo.com/weather
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:27 PM
R.I. Senate OKs bill increasing minimum wage
PROVIDENCE -- The state Senate today approved raising Rhode Island's minimum wage, sending the bill over to the House of Repesentatives for consideration.
The minimum wage would go to $7.60 an hour on Jan. 1, 2009 -- a 20-cent hourly increase over the state's current wage -- under legislation sponsored by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis, a Coventry Democrat who owns Venus Pizza in Coventry.
There would be annual wage increases every January 1, linked to the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast. Annual automatic increases would be capped at 3 percent.
"This measure will bring a much-needed degree of stability and continuity to the process, which is beneficial for both working Rhode Islanders and businesses in our state," Raptakis said in the statement.
He added that this bill "will take the politics out of this and establish a reasonable and specific way of calculating annual increases. It will make sure the minimum wage provides buying power for workers while giving small businesses the chance to effectively regulate and budget their personnel costs.”
Rhode Island has among the nation's highest minimum-wage rates in the nation, at $7.40 an hour, The Journal has reported. As of Jan. 1 just seven other states had higher minimum wages, including neighboring- Massachusetts was at $8 an hour and Connecticut at $7.65 an hour.
Republican Governor Carcieri let one minimum-wage increase go into effect without his signature early in his tenure, but vetoed another. The House and Senate have wide Democratic majorities.
In Connecticut last month, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, vetoed legislation that would have raised that state’s minimum wage from $7.65 to $8 starting Jan.1, 2009, and to $8.25 starting Jan. 1, 2010, according to a news release.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with Journal archival reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:00 PM
National Grid: No power failures directly tied to heat
Despite record-shattering temperatures, National Grid has seen no power failures in Rhode Island today that were directly tied to the hot weather, according to a company spokesman.
"We have about a half-dozen single outages scattered around the state that do not appear to be weather related," said spokesman David Graves.
Graves said there had been about 1,600 customers on the Johnston-Providence line without power at 3:41 p.m., but those had been restored by evening. He said "it's difficult to say" if those were weather-related. He said a device that detects faults in the system opened, the way a circuit breaker does, and power had been temporarily down.
Projected evening thunderstorms that posed some concern earlier today appeared later to be on course to dissipate over the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Graves said.
ISO New England, the organization overseeing the power grid in the six New England states, projected a maximum demand of 27,020 megawatts for the region. It says it also has available an additional reserve ready if demand were to outstrip that projection.
One megawatt is enough to power between 750 and 1,000 homes. The current record for actual, realized demand for this month -- not simply the projection the ISO prepares for -- was set last June 27: a peak of 26,055 megawatts, said ISO spokeswoman Erin O'Brien
The all-time record for electrical use in New England was 28,130 megawatts, set in August 2006.
"Each day," said O'Brien, "We create a forecast for the region's electricity use and available supplies and other sources to meet that demand. We do that by taking a look at weather patterns -- for example, what day of the week it is, is school in session, is it a holiday, and we arrive at a forecast for the region's electricity use."
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:53 PM
Suspect sought in alleged kidnap, assault in Warwick
WARWICK -- The police are looking for a man alleged to have assaulted a woman with a knife inside a car in a Super Stop & Shop parking lot and then allegedly sexually assaulted her in Roger Williams Park in Providence.
Warwick police said in a news release today that a Hispanic male with a slight mustache, 20 to 30 years old, 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-9 and weighing 150 pounds, entered the Stop & Shop at 300 Quaker Lane, at about 5:40 p.m. Sunday.
The police said the suspect had dark brown hair above the ears and parted high on his left side. He had on "dirty/baggy jeans with tethered legs" and dark low-rise sneakers with white markings.
Video surveillance showed him entering wearing a dark tank top, described as possibly a woman's due to thin shoulder straps, baggy work jeans and dark sneakers. He had a white T-shirt thrown over a shoulder.
The police asked that anyone with information contact the Warwick police at (401) 468-4233 or Providence police at (401) 272-3121.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
The police said it's believed he went to the back of the store and into the men's room, washed up, and put on the shirt he had been carrying -- white with a Coor's Light logo on the chest.
Then the man is seen in the video walking to and getting into an idling vehicle in the supermarket parking lot.
He entered the driver's side and "reportedly assaults an adult female sitting in the passenger side with a long kitchen or steak knife," the statement says.
The man drives the vehicle, with the passenger in it, out of the lot. He allegedly sexually assaulted her at Roger Willams Park and then fled, according to police.
The woman and the vehicle were found shortly after, the police said. She was treated at Rhode Island Hospital.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:50 PM
Goddard Memorial, Oakland added to closed beaches
The state Health Department closed two beaches to swimming today, and a third beach, closed June 6, remains so.
Goddard Memorial Beach and Oakland Beach, both in Warwick, were closed today to swimming because of high bacteria counts.
Mackerel Cove Beach, in Jamestown, was closed June 6, also due to bacteria.
For updated information about swimming at Rhode Island beaches, go to www.health.ri.gov or for recorded information about call (401) 222-2751.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:43 PM
Update: Check branch before seeking refuge at libraries
PROVIDENCE -- Those seeking to escape the heat by heading to the Providence Publc Library should not go to three of its branches -- including one a city Emergency Management Agency recommended in a news release yesterday -- because they do not have air conditioning and are closed.
The Knight Memorial branch at 275 Elmwood Ave. is not open. A news release yesterday included incorrect information on its status.
The other two branches that are not open are Smith Hill, at 31 Candace St., and Washington Park, at 1380 Broad St.
According to the Providence Public Library, the air-conditioned branches that are open today -- along with the correct hours of operation -- are:
* Rochambeau, 708 Hope St. (9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
* Mt. Pleasant, 315 Academy Ave. (1 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
* Providence central branch, 150 Empire St. (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
* Olneyville branch, 1 Olneyville Square (9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).
* Fox Point branch, 90 Ives Street (1 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
* Wanskuck branch, 233 Veazie St., (1 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
* South Providence branch, 441 Prairie Ave., (1 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:27 PM
Woman testifies that Entwistle was loving father
WOBURN, Mass. -- A "welcoming lady" for the town of Hopkinton, Mass., recalls the British man accused of killing his wife and baby girl as a loving, attentive father who "absolutely beamed" every time he looked as his daughter.
Pamela Jackson testified today in the trial of Neil Entwistle, who is accused of fatally shooting his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose, at their Hopkinton home in January 2006.
Jackson's testimony brought Neil Entwistle's mother, Yvonne, to tears. She was led out of the courtroom by Entwistle's father, Clifford.
Jackson welcomes new people into the town and said she visited the Entwistles five days before the killings. She said Neil Entwistle asked about town activities for his wife and daughter and seemed devoted to both.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:30 PM
Too many turn out for RIPTA's free beach bus / Video
PROVIDENCE -- The heat, all 93 degrees of it, is on -- and so were the masses of people in Providence trying to get on free RIPTA buses to the beach.
Supervisors in Kennedy Plaza this morning were telling would-be riders that buses were more than full, and asking them to step off because they could not drive buses with so many people aboard. Some passengers at one point refused to get off an overcrowded bus.
RIPTA staff were "having a hard time today because the weather is really bad," RIPTA spokeswoman Karen Mensel said.
If "there's too many people -- it's a safety issue," she said.
All buses and trolleys that can be in use are, Mensel said. But buses that need repairs to such things as air conditioning are not. Adhering to a vehicle's capacity is important, she said.
The free rides exclude special services such as the Providence to Newport ferry.
There are other ways to stay cool today as well in the city.
The Providence Emergency Management Agency has opened an emergency shelter at the Da Vinci Center, 401 Charles Street, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Providence Community Action announced today that the Elmwood Community Center at 155 Niagara St. will be open as a cooling center for seniors residing in the Elmwood and Washington Park Neighborhoods. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow.
Providence city officials have encouraged residents to visit one of the following Providence Public Library branches anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.:
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal photographer Bill Murphy
* Rochambeau, 708 Hope St.
* Mt. Pleasant, 315 Academy Ave.
* Central Library Branch, 150 Empire St.
* Fox Point, 90 Ives St.
* Olneyville, 1 Olneyville Square
Providence Mayor David Cicilline's senior services office has "reached out to all of the city’s high rises and senior centers" to offer help and to encourage those living in units without air conditioners to go to community rooms, according to a news release yesterday.
The senior services office will also start distributing fans to seniors in need today, the release stated.
CORRECTION: Knight Memorial, 275 Elmwood Ave., is not one of the air-conditioned libraries available. It has been closed to the public today. Also closed today due to the heat are Smith Hill Branch Library, 31 Candace Street; and Washington Park Branch,1380 Broad Street.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:10 PM
Restaurants pull tomatoes; FDA investigates salmonella
McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell are among the restaurants and supermarkets that have pulled certain types of raw tomatoes from their menus while federal officials hunt for the source of a 17-state salmonella outbreak.
The outbreak has been linked to certain red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that since mid-April, 167 people infected with salmonella with the same "genetic fingerprint" have been identified. At least 23 people have been hospitalized.
The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes were grown in certain states or countries.
The FDA says red Roma, red plum and round red tomatoes grown in the following states or countries were not associated with the outbreak: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico.
If unsure of where tomatoes are grown or harvested, consumers are encouraged to contact the store where the tomatoes were bought.
Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home are not associated with the outbreak.
More information, including an updated list of safe tomatoes, from the FDA's Web site.
Read the AP's national story: Tomatoes pulled off shelves amid salmonella scare.
-- With staff and Associated Press reports
Salmonellosis is caused by the Salmonella bacteria and can be fatal in the most severe cases.
It can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and typically clears up on its own.
But in infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, the illness –– particularly severe diarrhea –– can require hospitalization.
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:35 AM
Heat sending Providence students home early, too
Add Providence to the list of cities and towns closing early because of the record heat.
Schools in Providence will close an hour early today and afternoon kindergarten has been cancelled.
The temperature in the Providence area is expected to reach 96 degrees, breaking the record of 94 degrees set in 1974.
Some 23 public school systems and private schools in Rhode Island are closing early today because of the heat and humidity. Cranston canceled school.
Some schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts are also closing early.
The Providence School Department issued an advisory yesterday, saying it had scheduled classes as usual today, but was keeping a close watch on the students and would provide them with water bottles to keep them hydrated.
Check a list for other early closings.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:56 AM
Local TV company signs retransmission agreement
Providence-based LIN TV Corp., owner of WPRI-Channel 12, has signed an agreement with DIRECTTV Inc. for the retransmission of LIN's broadcast stations signal by the satellite television provider.
Terms were not disclosed.
LIN TV operates 29 television stations in 17 U.S. markets.
-- Journal Business editor John Kostrzewa
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:05 AM
Photo: Cool spray on a hot day
Journal photo/ Bill Murphy
Before the heat sets in, Ignacio Sena, of Cranston, waters his lawn this morning. The temperature in Cranston had already hit 81 degrees before 9 a.m. as the third day of record heat continues. The excessive heat should break tomorrow and the rest of the week looks considerably cooler.
Posted by Jack Perry at 8:48 AM
Today in history: Claus von Bulow acquitted
Journal photo / Frieda Squires
Claus von Bulow outside Superior Court in Providence on June 9, 1985. Then-Journal reporter Alan Rosenberg, who was covering the trial, is in the background.
On this day in 1985, socialite Claus von Bulow was acquitted by a jury in Providence on charges he'd tried to murder his heiress wife, Martha "Sunny" von Bulow.
The year before, he had been found guilty of the charges against him in a high-profile trial in Newport.
When the case came back a second time, to Providence, The Journal's Alan Rosenberg, now our South County regional editor, was the newspaper's lead reporter.
Last year, he wrote a column recalling those days, when the court appearances of von Bulow were covered like he was visiting royalty -- or Paris Hilton.
A few months later, he followed up on the whereabouts of Sunny von Bulow. Today, she's in a nursing home somewhere in New York City, according to various online sources, Rosenberg says.
Read more about other events in history today.
Watch a video of highlights from today in history.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
More record heat likely, ozone alert
The Providence area should push another record high temperature today before the region feels some relief tomorrow.
The mercury should climb to 96 degrees, and that would break the record for the date of 94 degrees set in 1974, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.
Yesterday, the temperatures hit 97 degrees, breaking the record for the date of 95 degrees in 1984.
The state Department of Environmental Management has issued an air quality alert, meaning that ground level ozone concentrations could exceed unhealthy levels.
All Rhode Island Public Transit Authority routes, except for special services, are free today because of the high ozone levels.
After the worst of the heat and humidity today, a cold front should bring some relief tomorrow. Still, tomorrow's high should reach 88 degrees. Cooler conditions should move in later this week.
The record heat has prompted some schools to cancel classes today or call off school early. Check the list.
This morning, areas of fog should clear by 9 a.m. and then it will be sunny with a west wind of 10 mph. shifting and coming from south.
Scattered showers should move in late tonight and the temperature should fall to about 65 degrees.
For more weather, see projo.com/weather.
Tips on coping with the heat.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features coverage of the record heat in Rhode Island and its impact on area schools.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM