A rather cool and uneventful summer along the East Coast of the United States (with a more average heat pattern occurring in the Midwest/Great Lakes regions) changed abruptly when a ridge of high pressure centered off the coast of South Carolina strengthened in late July.
It began in early August for areas of the Midwest and western Great Lakes before spreading eastward and intensifying. It waned in most areas by the middle of the month, and although fairly short in duration compared with some other continental heat waves, it was very intense at its peak.
The high humidity and high temperatures led to major heat wave that overtook the major Northeast Megalopolis. Temperatures in Central Park, New York City reached a peak of 103 °F (39 °C). The temperature reached 105 °F (41 °C) in Newark, New Jersey.
Meanwhile, in Ontario and Quebec, extreme temperatures were also reported daily during the first week of August. Ottawa recorded its second-hottest day ever when the mercury approached 37.3 °C (99.1 °F) on August 9 and at the Toronto Airport it hit 38 °C (100 °F) on the same day, the hottest day there since 1955 with four straight days topping 35 °C (95 °F). Numerous records were shattered during the heatwave. Even in Nova Scotia, surrounded by the relatively cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures still broke 35 °C (95 °F) in some locations. Glace Bay, which has a sub-Arctic climate reached a record-breaking 35.5 °C (95.9 °F) on August 10.
National Football League offensive tackle Korey Stringer suffered a heat stroke during the second day of the Minnesota Vikings preseason training camp and died as a result of complications on August 1, 2001. At least four New Yorkers died of hyperthermia. Chicago had at least 21 deaths.
The 2001 Heatwave in popular culture
- George, Thomas (August 2, 2001). "PRO FOOTBALL: Heat Kills a Pro Football Player; N.F.L. Orders a Training Review". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
- "Deaths of 4 New Yorkers Are Attributed to the Heat". The New York Times. August 13, 2001.
Four New Yorkers died of hyperthermia on Friday in what the city medical examiner's office yesterday described as the first heat-related deaths reported in the city this year. All of the victims had a history of heart disease and hypertension, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the examiner's office. Officials did not release the names of the victims. But they said that three were Manhattan residents: two women, 80 and 76, and a 57-year-old man. The fourth, an 82-year-old woman, was from Brooklyn. Ms. Borakove said that two other deaths were being investigated.
- "Swath of U.S. Sweats Out Another Heat Wave". The New York Times. August 4, 2001.
Elsewhere in the state, temperatures in the 80's felt relatively cool in Chicago, which has had 21 heat-related deaths this year, a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office said. Chicago officials declared the second of two heat emergency warnings this year on Wednesday and opened more than 100 cooling centers where residents could go for relief.