Severe heat in the Plains spreads eastward to more states

Thursday, July 21, 2011 | 12:59 p.m. CDT; updated 8:07 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 21, 2011

CINCINNATI — Hot weather that has plagued the Plains for days spread eastward Thursday, putting residents of several more states under a sizzling sun and excessive heat warnings.

The temperature could soar to 101 in Toledo, Ohio — 2 degrees above a record set in 1930. Combined with the humidity, it could feel as hot as 115 across Ohio.

"It feels very sultry, very uncomfortable, and it's just very dangerous," said Jim Lott, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, Ohio.

Forecasters said much of southern Ohio and southeastern Indiana would face excessive heat — temperatures and humidity that feel like 105 degrees or more — into Friday night before the wave moved on.

Thursday is shaping up as the hottest day of a steamy week in Ohio, with temperatures climbing to 97 in the southwestern part of the state. Farther east, the worst of the heat waited for Friday and the weekend.

Several deaths have been blamed on the heat nationwide.

Thousands of homes and businesses in southern Michigan lost power Thursday morning as people strained services by cranking up air conditioner use.

Baltimore, Annapolis and several other Maryland cities opened public cooling centers for folks to find relief, and Allentown, Pa., waived fees at all public pools to give residents places to cool down.

Some outdoor events have been canceled in the region. But organizers of the big annual air show in Dayton say it will go on as planned.

The temperature could hit near triple digits in Philadelphia and much of central and western New York, and all were under excessive heat warnings.

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