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Record heat wave blasts U.S. Midwest

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - A blast of late summer heat was baking the U.S. Midwest on Tuesday with officials closing public schools in Illinois and Ohio and opening cooling centers as record high temperatures roasted parts of the region.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for southern Michigan, including metro Detroit, extending through Wednesday night as temperatures were expected to climb to 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius), above the record for this date of 94 degrees Fahrenheit set in 1983, said Matt Mosteiko, a weather service meteorologist in Michigan.

"We thought the dog days of summer were behind us, but we're having this last high heat event with temperatures above normal," said Mosteiko.

Detroit city officials urged residents to stay indoors and said they were setting up air-conditioned respite centers.

A heat advisory was also in effect for Ohio as forecasted temperatures there were expected to meet or break the high of 96 degrees Fahrenheit set in the state 30 years ago. Temperatures were about 15 degree above normal and taking into account humidity, conditions were expected to feel more like 101 degrees.

Schools in Middletown, outside of Cincinnati, were dismissing students early because of the heat. In the Chicago area, officials ordered some 50 schools closed and sent their charges home early.

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn said more than 100 cooling centers were opened throughout that state on Tuesday, and he cautioned residents to protect themselves and friends and relatives from dehydration and other effects of extreme heat.

Temperatures are not expected to cool off much overnight, and more high heat was expected into Wednesday, moving east, forecasters said.

The hot weather also spells problems for many Midwestern farmers as it combines with the dry conditions to stress the U.S. corn and soybean crop, production could shrink.

But cool, autumn-like conditions should move in to the Plains states, Midwest and East by the weekend, forecasters predicted.

Some areas were expected to continue to bake in toasty conditions. In Death Valley, California, famed for its simmering temperatures, the high was pegged at 105 degrees on Tuesday and forecast to hit 109 degrees on Saturday, according to Accuweather Inc, a private forecasting company.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Additional reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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