McLean, VA (written by Alan Gomez/USA Today) -- The heat wave cooking most of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic will keep raging today as cities in at least 13 states endure triple-digit heat.
Jon Rowe, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel, says more than 174 cities around the country set record high temperatures Tuesday and a final tally of Wednesday's records likely will come close to that figure. He said that pattern should continue today and through the weekend before finally easing some by Sunday - but not by much.
"It's still going to be horrific," he says, "but a little more average."
Illinois is now on pace for its hottest year in recorded history. Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel writes on his blog that every month this year has been above average, and the statewide average temperature of 52.8 over those six months is the hottest on record. The previous record was a statewide average temperature of 52.1 in 1921.
The heat has sent more people to hospitals as they struggle to adjust to such an early start of the dog days of summer. In Springfield, Mo., Mercy Hospital received its first 2011 heat-related illness on June 14. This year, the first case walked in on June 4, and the hospital has seen 24 more people come in with heat-related illnesses.
"It's hard on a holiday to tell people, 'Don't be drinking a bunch of soda or alcohol,' but you need to be careful about that sort of thing," Mercy Hospital spokeswoman Sonya Kullmann says. "The people who've been coming in, they haven't been drinking enough water or sports drinks."
Hundreds of thousands of people from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic remained without electricity Wednesday after Friday's violent storms responsible for 26 deaths.
In the Washington, D.C. area, Pepco said power was restored to 90% of its customers. More than 146,000 Virginia customers and 78,000 in central Maryland remained without power, according to the Associated Press.