Video: Oppressive heat lingers

  1. Closed captioning of: Oppressive heat lingers

    >>> good evening. they tell us the scientific explanation is this. high pressure compressing the air, cooking the air and ramming it down on top of us and holding it there. but here's the real problem. there are now 34 states where there are heat advisories or heat warnings. one million square miles of our country where folks are being warned about the heat tonight. the heat, the severe heart of it, affects 141 million americans as it moves over big population centers. we can see how it's gotten worse in time lapse in recent days. kevin tibbles is on michigan avenue in chicago . kevin , good evening.

    >> reporter: brian, it is hot, it is oppressive, and it is dangerous. already numerous deaths are being blamed on the heat as millions try to cope in this pressure cooker . tens of millions of americans are tonight trapped in a withering combination of heat and humidity. it is even 95 degrees in bismarck, north dakota , a place usually associated with snow.

    >> really, really hot.

    >> very, very, very hot.

    >> reporter: in chicago , kids found a different way to cool off. this oppressive dome of heat is as dangerous as it is uncomfortable and is already being blamed for more than 20 deaths.

    >> extreme. it's like hell on earth .

    >> it's a lot better than a blizzard but it's still not good.

    >> reporter: on chicago 's west side , student tyron is selling ice cold water for a buck apiece.

    >> i sell water, they stay cool .

    >> reporter: memories of the 1995 heatwave in which 155 people died has emergency rooms here at the ready.

    >> we are being a lot more aggressive in pre-empting things as people come in with heat-related disorders.

    >> reporter: nationwide, headlines are 100 says the kansas city star , hot, hot, hot, and burning rubber . so hot in minneapolis that the pavement buckled in places. in kansas city , they are being told to preserve water. in tents in the 90s, the phillies lost on both accounts searing temperatures is taking its toll across the country with many areas over 100 degrees with the heat index .

    >> i'm janet in texas. along with oklahoma and other states, made worse by a once in a generation drought that extends from arizona all the way to florida.

    >> i'm ron allen in new york's time square where the concrete is baking and temperatures soaring. most of the northeast is at the low 90s but a lot of places expect to shatter 100 degrees by friday, making sight seeing pretty sweltering for the folks that have come here to have a good time. a good time, too, for the animals at the zoo, feeding the animals with giant popsicles specially made for the tigers, lions, and bears.

    >> reporter: and tonight health officials are urging people to stay hydrated, stay indoors, if it's cooler, and to check on their elderly neighbors and relatives. now is a good time to be a neighbor. brian?

    >> kevin tibbles in chicago . thanks,

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/20/2011 6:43:54 PM ET 2011-07-20T22:43:54

Some 141 million Americans over nearly 1 million square miles were under a heat alert on Wednesday, the result of a heat "dome" that's only slowly moving away from the central U.S. — and into the East Coast.

  1. Only on NBCNews.com
    1. OWN via Getty Images
      From belief to betrayal: How America fell for Armstrong
    2. pool via Reuters file
      US to Syria neighbors: Be ready to act on WMDs
    3. China: One-child policy is here to stay
    4. NRA: Practice Range
      New 'Practice Range' shooter game says it’s from NRA
    5. 'Gifted' priest indicted in crystal meth case
    6. AFP - Getty Images
      China's state media admits to air pollution crisis
    7. AFP - Getty Images
      French to send 1,000 more troops to Mali

The National Weather Service said 22 deaths in recent days were potentially heat related.

"This heat is dangerous on many levels," NWS Director Jack Hayes said in a statement. "Temperatures and humidity levels are high, the heat will be prolonged, and very warm temperatures overnight won’t provide any respite. All of these factors make this an unhealthy situation, especially those in the upper Midwest who are not accustomed to such heat."

Hospitals in Wichita, Kan., treated 25 heat-related illnesses, according to the Weather Service report. In Des Moines, Iowa, 16 people were hospitalized because of the heat.

In Minneapolis, dozens of fans at recent Minnesota Twin games have been treated for heat issues, even though the club did take extra precautions such as providing free water stations and having first aid and guest service staff on hand to monitor crowds.

Day after day of high temperatures and humidity with no relief overnight was taxing the region.

"It's just draining, physically draining," said Chris Vaccaro, a Weather Service spokesman.

At least 27 states were under some sort of heat warning, watch or advisory.

Video: Heat 'dome' effect explained (on this page)

An atmospheric high pressure ridge hanging over the Midwest is blocking moisture, causing a buildup of heat that acts more like a dome than a heat wave. The ridge will weaken by the weekend, permitting cooler temperatures and some rainfall in the Midwest.

In Philadelphia on Wednesday temperatures were forecast to reach 93 degrees. Raleigh, N.C., could see 99 degrees, and it could be 95 degrees in Washington, D.C.

At 11:30 local time, it was already 91 degrees in the shade outside the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the Loop.

"It's hot today, but it's going to be hotter later in the week" on the East Coast, said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.

In Pittsburgh, some residents said they had plans to stay cool as temperatures rose.

Story: Heatless in Seattle, and rest of Northwest

Retired police records clerk MaryAnn Dean was heeding the experts' advice to stay indoors.

"I'm not one that likes the real hot humidity," said Dean, 59. "I'm just staying in the air conditioning."

Meredith Brown planned to head to the pool with her dog to escape the heat.

"My dog is kind of going a little crazy with it," said Brown, 29, as she walked her pooch. "It's a little hard for him."

Video: Heat makes subway 'hell on earth' (on this page)

Cities take precautions
With temperatures expected to approach 90 degrees over the next several days, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino reportedly issued a heat advisory and warned residents to take it easy.

"The hot weather has now become steamy weather as high temperatures and humidity arrive this week," Menino said in a statement. "In these conditions, we must remember to stay cool and hydrated and continue to keep an eye on our neighbors."

Additionally, the city will open cooling stations at community centers and extended pool hours to 9 p.m., the statement said.

In New York City, where the humidity is building, temperatures are expected to near 90 degrees on Wednesday. The city's Office of Emergency Management is offering residents the ability to search for a cooling center near their location.

In the central U.S., two men appeared to have died while tending to yards. The core body temperature of a 65-year-old man who died on Monday while mowing his lawn near Wichita, Kan., was 107 degrees, Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said.

"It's tragic," Herzet said. "People need to stay in when it's this hot, or drink plenty of liquids. They need to know their limits."

It was a similar story about 65 miles away in Blackwell, Okla., where a 70-year-old man last seen walking down a street pushing a lawnmower was found unresponsive.

He died at the hospital. His body temperature was at least 108 degrees, according to police.

"This is a guy you would see out all the time in all different weather," said Blackwell Fire Chief Tom Beliel. "It's just unfortunate."

High temperatures were also responsible for an alarming spike in deaths of illegal immigrants trying to cross into the United States, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. It did not say, however, exactly how many had died due to weather.

"Cases of dehydration and heat exhaustion are way up," said supervisory agent Dan Milian, with the Rio Grande Valley sector in Edinburg, Texas.

As a result, the patrol deployed search and rescue units in the south Texas brush country.

The heat also set new peak records for electricity usage.

Slideshow: Major Heatwave (on this page)

Xcel Energy, which serves 1.64 million customers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota, broke a demand record on Monday with 9,504 megawatts of power used, said Tom Hoen, a company spokesman. The old record set in August 2010 was 9,100 megawatts.

In Omaha, Neb., flood control work along the overflowing Missouri River was halted due to the heat, as officials worried that filling sandbags was too strenuous.

In Illinois, the second-largest corn and soybean producing state, the heat and humidity were not yet damaging crops, according to University of Illinois agronomist Emerson Nafziger. But a lack of rain was cause for concern.

"Corn is holding on so far," Nafziger said. "We're starting to get a little worried right now from a water standpoint."

Msnbc.com staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Heat wave across the US

loading photos...
  1. James Maxim of Lunenburg, Mass., soaks in the cooling water of the Saco River in Limington, Maine, on Friday, July 22. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Bikers cool off at the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally in Bloomsburg, Pa., on July 22. (Jimmy May / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Orient Billie cools off with a fan at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., on July 22. (Mike Lawrence / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Susan Fernandez, of Lawrence, Mass., enjoys the spray of a hydrant opened by the city's public works on July 22. (Elise Amendola / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A customer wipes sweat off his forehead after purchasing an air conditioner at a store in New York City on July 22. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Children at a summer camp in Andover, Mass. throw snowballs and play on a pile of ice shavings delivered from an area hockey rink on July 22. (Elise Amendola / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A fire truck in Linden, Mich., provided this entertainment on Thursday, July 21. (Ryan Garza / The Flint Journal via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Vanity Mendez, 11, left, Isaiah Rivera, 6, center, and Jonathan Medina, 11, cool off at an open fire hydrant in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan on Thursday. A heatwave that has enveloped much of the central part of the country for the past couple of weeks is moving east and temperatures are expected to top the 100-degree mark. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. William Dyer, Jr., of Gortham, Maine stays cool seated on his beach chair waist-deep in Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, on Thursday. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Nathan Pakozdi, 9, tends to his family's hogs as they cool off beneath a pair of fans at the Warren County Fair in Lebanon, Ohio, on Thursday. Farmers and other animal keepers are toiling away to keep creatures cool during the hot weather sweeping much of the country. (Al Behrman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Virginia Carol Thompson, 70, panhandles at the intersection of West Reno and Klein in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Thursday. Thompson said when it gets too hot, she stays under the bridge where she sleeps at night. Temperatures in Oklahoma City have exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 days straight. (Brett Deering / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Paving supervisor John Recupero enjoys a piece of watermelon with his crew, as they wait for an additional asphalt truck with temperatures soaring near 100 degrees in Westborough, Mass., on Thursday. (Christine Peterson / Worcester Telegram and Gazette via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Civil War reenactors sleep in the shade on a blistering hot day at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia on Thursday as they mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, the first major battle of the Civil War. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Swimmers look on as one of the 250 bags of ice is dumped into the Franklin Memorial Swimming Pool in Franklin, Ind., on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to climb into the high 90s with heat index well over 100. (Darron Cummings / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Jay Kennedy organizes fans donated by Comcast-Spectacor to be distributed to seniors at the Philadelphia Senior Center Thursday in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rick Vermeulen cools off with a drink from his water cooler, taking a break from the 95 degree heat on Thursday in Bay City, Mich. Vermeulen and his crew from ATT were working on building a new manhole on Midland Street. (Michael Randolph / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Nasier Wright, 4, sits on a basketball near cups of lemonade on the courtyard at the Pennington Court apartments on Thursday in Newark, N.J. Residents of the 223-unit public housing complex gathered outdoors as temperatures neared the 100-degree mark. (Julio Cortez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Olivia Provis, 6, stands still to have sweat wiped off her forehead by her mother, Angela Provis, right, as they shield themselves from the afternoon sun while waiting for a bus on Thursday in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. DTE Energy employees unload bags of ice at the Gerry Kulick Community Center in Ferndale, Mich. on Thursday where a cooling center was set up for those affected by power outages. (Carlos Osorio / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A very hot and thirsty dog named Buck cools off drinking bottled water poured by his owner Sue Anderson of South Windsor, Conn., during a legion baseball game at the peak of the heat Wednesday afternoon, July 20. A lengthy, blistering heat wave is blanketing the eastern half of the United States. (Jim Michaud / Journal Inquirer via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Nine-year old Adrienne Curtis douses herself with buckets of cold water on Wednesday afternoon in Peoria, Ill. (Ron Johnson / Peoria Journal Star via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Leena Allen cools off by standing in front of a misting fan during a visit to the Saint Louis Zoo on Wednesday in St. Louis. Much of the United States is trapped under a heat "dome" caused by a huge area of high pressure that's compressing hot, moist air beneath it, leading to miserable temperatures. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. As temperatures hit triple digits, a zoo keeper at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., cools off a Double Yellow Headed Amazon parrot with water spray, Wednesday. (Nati Harnik / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Bathers beat the midday heat at the Devil's Pool in Wissahickon Valley Park on Wednesday in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Jayson Hamler, 7, plays in some water outside a school on Wednesday in Milwaukee. Workers and residents in the city are contending with highest temperatures of the summer season as a prolonged stretch of hot, humid weather takes hold on the upper midwest region of the United States. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Vincenzo Vitalb cools off before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in Chicago. The afternoon heat index exceeded 100 degrees in the area. (Nam Y. Huh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Head athletic trainer Eric Claas, left, applies a cold towel to sophomore Cuong Nguyn during a morning football practice at Father Ryan High School on Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. With the summer heating up, schools are trying to keep their student-athletes off the field during the hottest parts of the day by rescheduling practices and scrimmages for early in the morning or in the evening. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Christian Rhodes substitutes a water balloon for a baseball as he and his youth baseball team try to beat the heat during a practice at Brandenstein Park in Watertown, Wis. on Tuesday, July 19. (Adam Tobias / The Watertown Daily Times via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Jonathan Decker, right, from Hot Springs, Ark., and Charlie Woolsey, from Harrison, Ark., tear a roof off a tornado-damaged home as the sun dips low in the sky on Tuesday in Joplin, Mo. Despite a recent heat wave, crews continue to clean up and rebuild nearly two months after an EF-5 tornado destroyed much of Joplin. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. John C. Anderson, of Silvis, Ill., takes a big drink of water next to a sculpture of the Blues Brothers after riding his bike from Silvis to downtown Rock Island, Ill. Tuesday. Anderson rode the approximately 10-miles to Rock Island to perform a couple of heat wave related songs for the downtown lunch-time crowd. (Todd Mizener / The Dispatch via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Luke McCrory, 5, from Coopersville, cools off in front of a giant fan at the Berlin Fair in Marne, Mich., on Tuesday. (Cory Morse / The Grand Rapids Press via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Leon Buys is doused in water while taking a break from midway set-up chores at the Dane County Fair in Madison, Wis. Tuesday. Workers and residents in the city are contending with highest temperatures of the summer season as a prolonged stretch of hot, humid weather takes hold on the upper midwest region of the United States. (John Hart / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Five-year-old Dam young Kim, of Korea, makes hand prints in the condensation on one of the windows of a State Capitol doorway while waiting to leave the building with her family, Tuesday, in St. Paul, Minn. The foreign visitors were able to see the Capitol when Gov. Mark Dayton ordered it opened to the public after being closed for 18 days during the state's shutdown. Dew points reached a state record 83 percent and the heat index hit 119 degrees in Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Tom Olmscheid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A man soaks his feet in a fountain while reading a magazine on the Rose Kennedy Greenway on a warm summer afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. In Council Bluffs, Iowa, where the heat index made it feel like 126 degrees on Monday, July 18, locals are also dealing with potential flooding from the Missouri River. Here volunteers fill sand bags on Tuesday. (Nati Harnik / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Participants in Drums Across America, a competition featuring eight elite drum and bugle corps from around the country, take a water break Monday, July 18, near Wichita, Kan., during practice. Temperatures rose above 100 degrees across the state. (Mike Hutmacher / The Wichita Eagle via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Walter Gatewood, 87, sits on his front porch trying to beat the heat in Flint, Mich., Monday. A heat wave smothered the Midwest with temperatures over 100 degrees. (Paul Sancya / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A child cools off in mist at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb. on Monday. (Nati Harnik / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A sun worshipper floats down Sunset River at Knott's Soak City Water Park in Buena Park, Ca. as temperatures around the county soared Monday. (H. Lorren Au Jr. / Orange County Register via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Malee, a three-month old Asian elephant, cools off with a spray of water in her wading pool at the Oklahoma City Zoo on Monday. (Sue Ogrocki / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Lillie Walker, 90, accepts bottles of cold water from Bob Sidwell, the City of Jennings housing, streets and parks director, as he checks on the elderly during a heat wave Monday, in Jennings, Mo. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Emergency personnel assist a woman after she was overcome by heat during the graveside service for Terre Haute Police Department Officer Brent Long in Terre Haute, Ind., Monday. (Darron Cummings / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Jazia Pratt, 8, fills a bucket with water from a fire hydrant in the afternoon summer heat Monday, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 22: Romona Johnson (L) plays in a fountain at the Inner Harbor with her children Japrea Parker, 12, (C) and Janae Parker, 9, (R) on July 22, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. A large heatwave has been crossing the United States and is causing extreme summer temperatures. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) (Rob Carr / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: James Maxim
    Robert F. Bukaty / AP
    Above: Slideshow (44) Heat wave across the US
  2. Nate Beeler / The Washington Examiner, Politicalcartoons.com
    Slideshow (7) Major Heatwave

Interactive: Heat wave

  1. Above: Interactive Heat wave
  2. Map Beach report 2011

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,