US heat wave: Three-digit temperatures recorded across Midwest
US heat wave: Record-breaking temperatures have closed schools and sent people seeking refuge ... at the zoo
Eliot Kamenitz,The Times-Picayune/AP
Temperatures soared¬†across¬†the Midwest on Thursday, reaching a blistering 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsius) in¬†St. Louis, and possibly causing two deaths in¬†KansasCity,¬†Missouri, as a massive¬†heat¬†wave pressed eastward from the Rockies.
In¬†Kansas¬†City, where the temperature rose to 105 (40 C), the city health department said two deaths were being investigated to determine if they were¬†heat-related.
A massive high-pressure system over the Midwest caused triple-digit temperatures in¬†Chicago¬†and several other cities. The oppressive¬†heat¬†is expected to linger for several days.
The searing¬†heat¬†presented a challenge for the¬†St. Louis¬†Zoo, which provided misting machines, large fans and cooling stations for visitors and took steps to cool down the animals.
"When it gets hot like this, we like to take a bone and freeze it into a big block of ice then throw it into a pool where the big cats can play with it," said¬†Jack Grisham, who heads the zoo's animal collection. "We'll freeze bananas and oranges and throw them to the primates as well."
Hill City,¬†Kansas, which has been the hottest spot in the nation for five days, reached 108 (42 C) Thursday afternoon, the¬†National Weather Service¬†said. The thermometer hit 115 (46 C) on Wednesday in the¬†northwest Kansas¬†farm community.
"It feels like you have a big old furnace blowing in your face," said¬†Rayson Brachtenbach, a technician at Elliott Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Electric in Hill City.
Brachtenbach said the hot weather kept the company busy repairing air conditioning systems.
"A lot of these places haven't had a lot of rain, and dry soil contributes to¬†heat," Sosnowski said, when asked why the high temperatures are being seen so early in the summer. "The sun's energy doesn't go into evaporating moisture, so it heats the ground and that heats the air. It takes a really big rainfall event to bust a drought like this."
Though scattered thunderstorms are expected to dial down the¬†heat¬†in the Midwest on Friday, Sosnowski does not see anything that would make much of an impact in dry areas.
The weather conditions have contributed to¬†Colorado¬†wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes. The¬†heat¬†and drought conditions also are damaging crops. U.S. corn prices have soared 17 percent this month as the hot dry weather persists in the main growing area of the Midwest.
In¬†Indiana, burn bans are in effect in 74 of 92 counties, and 45 counties have restrictions on shooting off fireworks.
With temperatures soaring, officials from¬†Kansas¬†to the¬†Carolinas¬†asked residents to take steps to stay cool and check on friends and neighbors. In Birmingham,¬†Alabama, police were checking on the sick and elderly.
"We want to ensure our citizens remain safe during the excessive¬†heat¬†outbreak,"¬†Birmingham PoliceChief A.C. Roper said. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, Kevin Murphy, Bruce Olson, Tim Ghianni, Christine Stebbins, Keith Coffman, and Susan Guyett; Editing by David Bailey and Stacey Joyce)