STARRETT CITY, Brooklyn — Thursday was the hottest day of 2017 so far, but its high temperature in the mid-90s was actually an increasingly rare occurrence for New York City summers.
That's a small comfort for residents without air conditioning, and it also does not mean that summer weather in New York City overall is cooling. In fact, according to weather almanac data, the opposite is true.
"This century, we haven't had an excessive number of 90-plus degree days," said Rob Frydlewicz, weather historian and curator of the New York City Weather Archive website. However, he said, morning temperatures in the 70s are becoming more common, and " the nighttime temperatures are going up."
Neetu Dhall knows that all too well.
"Yesterday night was the worst night," said Dhall, the retiree and resident of Spring Creek Towers, which are also known as Starrett City, on Thursday afternoon. "It was a horrible night."
That's because she is among thousands of residents in this south Brooklyn affordable housing community whose central air cooling system is not working properly.
In her apartment, the air temperature was barely lower than the outside temperature during the hottest part of the day on Thursday afternoon.
The reason for the slightly lower indoor temperature is that, because her air conditioning is not working, Dhall opens her windows at night when it's coolest, and keeps the windows closed during the day to try and keep the cooler air in.
Again, it's barely cooler at all.
"It's unbearable," Dhall told PIX11 News. "I cannot bear this heat. It's too hot," she said.
"I cannot get to sleep until four in the morning," she said.
Even then, the coolest time of the day, is no full respite, according to the weather historian.
"Last year was the first year we had no 50 degree days in the summer," said Frydlewicz.
In past decades, he said, New York would commonly have five or six days during the summer with temperatures in the 50s.
Since the 1950s, he said, "That number has steadily reduced, and the number of nights in the 70s has steadily increased," despite there being fewer daytime highs in the 90s.
That means, overall, the average summer midnight-to-midnight period has been warmer in the last two decades.
It's a fact, that's hitting residents of Spring Creek / Starrett City hard. With about half of the more 5600 apartments in the development without their air cooling working properly, they've been holding demonstrations against the property management company.
"We want compensation for what we had to spend out of pocket" in order to be to be comfortable, said Maria Cruz, the organizer of the protest. It's being held every day this week in front of the Spring Creek business office -- outside -- where at least there's a breeze.
For its part, Spring Creek Towers issued a statement that read in part, "During routine maintenance in the switchover from heating to cooling earlier this month, a major leak was discovered in our dual temperature pipe that provides heat from October to May, and cooling from June to September.
"When cool water began flowing to buildings throughout the complex, clogs in the some of the pipe risers were discovered which were preventing the cool air from being felt in some apartments. Starrett has engaged multiple plumbing crews who, together with maintenance crews, are continuing to work overtime including evenings and the weekend to bleed all risers in all buildings where this problem currently exists and to address any blockages that may be occurring in the lines. These crews are continuing to work until all of the problems are corrected.
"Spring Creek Towers understands that the disruptions which accompany these repairs and replacements are difficult, but they are necessary as the modernization of these facilities continue for the betterment of all residents. That has always been Spring Creek Towers’ commitment, and always will be."
The statement gave no indication that Spring Creek Towers would reduce residents' rents for their time without air conditioning.