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July 20, 2015

Philadelphia tourists cope as heat and humidity put damper on vacations

Weather Heat Wave
Hot Day - Historic District Michael Phillis/PhillyVoice

An Independence Mall park ranger said the crowds were lighter Monday morning but building as usual. But they weren't hanging out on the sun-soaked lawn.

It was hot as blazes on Independence Mall on Monday, but tourists carried on despite the staggering heat and humidity.

On a day the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the region, many folks who had planned their vacations far in advance of any short-term weather forecast, were keeping to their plans. All the while seeking a bit more shade, drinking more water and lingering in air-conditioned buildings.

GALLERY: Hot summer in the city

The warning is scheduled to end at 8 p.m. Monday with the maximum heat index expected to reach near 105 degrees.

Jackie Berler, who was visiting the city from Boston, said if "we are going to be here, we have to put up with this."

Around the historic district, people with cameras paused to snap photos and take in the city's history, but few sat on the sun-soaked grass.

On a bench in the shade near the Visitors Center, Tamara Saucier of Maine paused with her 10-year-old nephew, Evan Hurtubise. They planned their vacation earlier in the year and were determined to see Philadelphia despite the heat. It was uncomfortable enough that they are rethinking the mid-July timing for their break.

"We are not doing this in the summer anymore," Saucier said. "We are changing our holiday to the fall."

They were headed to the National Constitution Center having already visited several historic sites, including Ben Franklin's grave and the Betsy Ross House, she said.

While they had an ambitious schedule, Saucier said the heat had them taking it a bit slower and they making sure to stay hydrated.

Park Ranger Chris Leonard said the day's crowds had "started out quietly, but it definitely has been picking up as the day goes on and that is normal."

He said that while some walking tours had been canceled because of the heat, the buildings and most of the other attractions were open as usual.

"It looks like it is going to be pretty much a normal day," he said.

Aaron Capozzi was in the city on a brief visit from New York state.

"I just always wanted to come up here, the real reason is to go run the Rocky steps," he said around 10:30 a.m., shortly after taking a selfie with Independence Hall as the backdrop. "That's the biggest thing I've always wanted to do. I'm a huge fan."

Capozzi, who previously worked as a history teacher, said he was ignoring the heat and wanted to take advantage of his first visit to Philadelphia.

"I just feel totally American today," he said.

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A woman walks a dog on Monday morning. People were cautioned to limit their outdoor activities with an excessive heat warning in effect for the region. Gallery. (Thom Carroll / PhillyVoice)

While temperatures will only reach the mid-90s, the higher humidity will make it feel more oppressive, and people are advised to limit strenuous outdoor activity.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminded employers to protect workers from heat illness. If a job requires working long hours outdoors, employers should take necessary precautions to keep workers safe – providing frequent water breaks, shaded areas and enough time to rest.

In addition to Philadelphia, counties under the warning include New Castle, Mercer, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks.

In Camden, a heat alert is in effect till 7 p.m. Monday, and county municipalities were notified to open their public cooling centers. The county freeholders are again distributing free fans to senior citizens this year. Residents age 60 and older with an income of $25,000 or less are eligible to receive a fan at no cost. To request a fan or to obtain information, please call the Camden County Division of Senior Services at (856) 858-3220.

Tuesday is expected to be the end of the current heat wave, with a high temperature near 93.

The weather service says there is a chance of isolated showers later today and tonight:

Philadelphia

MondayIsolated showers and afternoon thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 95. Heat index values as high as 105. West wind 5 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Monday nightIsolated showers and thunderstorms before 2 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. West wind 3 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Jersey Shore

MondayIsolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 87. South wind 7 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Monday night: Isolated showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. Southwest wind 5 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Rehoboth Beach

MondayIsolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Southwest wind 6 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Monday nightIsolated showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 76. Southwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.

Staff writer Christina LoBrutto contributed to this report.

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