Record heat, then storms knock down trees and power lines


More storms were expected around the region Friday night.

The sky turned dark as storm clouds moved into the Back Bay early Friday afternoon over the Prudential (left) and Hancock towers as seen from Berkeley Street. The same system brought heavy rain and wind to the Western suburbs earlier. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

BOSTON (AP) — The heat that has gripped much of the nation seeped into New England, forcing some schools to close or send kids home early on Friday. The mayor of Boston declared a heat emergency, with cooling centers opening around the city.

On Friday afternoon, some communities were hit by powerful thunderstorms with high winds that downed tree limbs and power lines, leaving tens of thousands without power in Massachusetts. More storms were expected around the region Friday night.

In Lowell, Massachusetts, where none of the 28 schools have air conditioning, all classes remained closed on Friday for safety reasons. The temperature was expected to reach a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), with the humidity making it feel like 95 degrees.

Other schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire were also closed or sent students home early — and curtailed after-school activities.

Electric fans were delivered to schools to help keep teachers and students comfortable as temperatures approached 90 degrees on Thursday in parts of New England. Most of the public schools in Boston have access to air conditioning, but the city would supply water and fans to the schools that need them, Mayor Michelle Wu said when she declared a heat emergency for Thursday and Friday.

Hot temperatures earlier in the week caused disruptions at schools from Michigan to Virginia, with some districts dismissing students early and others holding classes online. In the second week of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, the heat and humidity are pushing players to the limit. The Grand Slam tournament adopted a new policy on Tuesday to partially shut the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof in extreme conditions to offer some extra shade.

In Texas during another stretch of sizzling summer heat, the power grid manager on Thursday asked residents to cut their electricity use, a day after the system was pushed to the brink of outages for the first time since a deadly winter blackout in 2021.

Augusta, Maine, set a record of 90 F (32 C) on Thursday and Concord, New Hampshire, reached 93 F (33 C), said Sarah Thunberg, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Maine.