Nightly News   |  July 20, 2011

Oppressive heat lingers

All or parts of 34 states and DC are under a heat advisory, which means about 141 million people are affected by the heat and humidity. Kevin Tibbles reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 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,