The Dog Days of Summer Are Here Early. New York City Adapts.

As spring turned to summer this week, much of New York City was hit with extreme heat. Concerned residents therefore prepared for rising temperatures earlier than normal. At the same time, various city services, social organizations and companies have adjusted their seasonal calendars.

As climate change extends the traditional summer and pummels the city with spontaneous rainstorms, many New Yorkers are finding themselves out of sync with the weather and having to reconsider how to adapt to the passing months.

Just look at this week: the city has already activated the first emergency plan of the year due to the heat, but the schools remain open, the swimming pools have yet to open and there are still lifeguards on public beaches.

Most New Yorkers made modest adjustments to their schedules, postponing outings or being cautious when they did. For example, they exercised and ran errands in the mornings and evenings, the coolest times of day.

“There is always some natural variability in weather and climate, but climate change is making the calendars we used to rely on less and less reliable,” said Radley Horton, a professor at Columbia University’s Climate School.

Extreme heat occurs both earlier and later in the year due to global warming, Dr. Horton said. This means that all days will become warmer, not just summer days, he explained, adding that “there is also concern that poorly understood surprises from climate change, such as very early snow melting, leading to a Very early soil drying could make climate change hot days even hotter.”

The New York City Emergency Management Department studied extreme heat throughout the year to prepare for this summer, said Ashleigh Holmes, a spokeswoman for the agency. The prep work allowed the department to prepare its cooling center card three weeks before the first heat wave, she added.

But the calendar worked against those efforts this week when public libraries, which make up about a third of all cooling centers, were closed Wednesday for the June holiday.

“It is important to emphasize that there are numerous ways to stay cool in New York City, including more than 300 cooling centers that are not libraries, and there have been holidays in the past when libraries have been closed,” said Aries Dela Cruz, the executive director of public information for the Division of Emergency Management.

One of those other ways to stay cool is the Home Energy Assistance Program, a state program that gives away air conditioners and has been active since April. Anticipating a warmer, earlier summer, officials introduced the program this year two weeks earlier than last year, a state spokesperson said.

When Rudy Thomas, 52, a home care worker in Coney Island, heard about the impending heat and air conditioning program this week, he rushed to get the paperwork together to sign up.

But when Mr. Thomas showed up Tuesday at the Department of Social Services, which helps administer the program, no one was there to help him. He waited for three hours and then left, calling the errand a waste of time.

A department spokesman said he would investigate what happened to Mr Thomas’ attempt to make an application and that a mailbox was in the office for such requests.

For those who have to work outside, such as construction workers, the heat can be particularly debilitating. For now, their schedules haven’t so much changed as adjusted.

“Many unions are negotiating for breaks and other safety measures for temperature-related issues,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, which represents 3,000 unions in the state, including those in the construction industry. He added that more regulation is needed to protect workers in the age of climate change.

Delivery drivers typically see their schedules become more demanding during extreme weather, said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Workers Justice Project, a nonprofit that aims to improve working conditions for low-wage immigrant workers.

If New Yorkers stay indoors because of rising temperatures, it means a heavier workload for delivery workers who, as self-employed workers, have no way to turn down orders without fear of losing future work, she explained.

The city has launched a pilot program to distribute what it calls “cooling kits,” which include cooling towels, cold packs, water and sunscreen, to day and delivery workers, said Ms. Holmes, of the city’s Emergency Management Division.

New York State United Teachers, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers union, is not yet pushing for a change to the school calendar. But the group, which has 700,000 members, has supported a recently passed law that aims protect both children and teachers of high temperatures. The bill proposed that schools would be evacuated if temperatures reached 88 degrees.

Extreme weather can also affect the city’s cultural calendar, which sees many outdoor events at this time of year. Small Islanda public park on the Hudson River, has canceled two shows due to extreme heat since it began curating live performances in 2021. During the first season, shows were scheduled for daytime, but due to the heat, all performances were moved to the evening, and now begin at 8:30 p.m., according to a spokeswoman.

New York Road Runners, a running organization that has canceled three races in the past two years due to extreme weather conditions, post guidelines for die-hards, while the Striders programfor older walkers, is in constant consultation with its safety team, which recommends participants switch to indoor programs or cancel when necessary, a spokeswoman said.

Some picnickers in Central Park, however, didn’t seem at all interested in changing their plans, says Wendy Weston, the owner of Perfect Picnic, which provides picnics (although one customer changed her start time this week from noon to 10 a.m.) “I think that people are just really excited to be outside,” she said.

Julian Roberts-Grmela contributed report.

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