A calendar shows temperatures recorded by Bob Richmeier, in Hill City, Kan., June 30. Hill City, best known for its bountiful pheasant hunting and museum of oil history, suffered through five days of brutal heat that topped out at 115 degrees. Steve Hebert / The New York Times via Redux Pictures

3 July 2012 – With power, and air conditioning, still out in nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses -- and many of those not likely to be reconnected for days -- the National Weather Service warned that dangerously high temperatures would hit the Midwest on Tuesday and then spread into the eastern third of the U.S. over the next few days.

The NWS issued excessive heat warnings for parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. It also issued warnings about severe thunderstorms in parts of Michigan and South Dakota early Tuesday.

“Combined with high levels of humidity, this will create dangerous heat index values as high as 100-110 degrees for locations such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis," the weather service reported.

That heat will expand "eastward over the next few days," it added. "Much of the eastern third of the country will see a resurgence of the heat experienced last weekend."

On Monday, the power outages were reduced by about a million customers following a strong weekend storm that cut a path from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic, knocking down trees and power lines.

But residents and businesses were still struggling with outages in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. 

In Washington, D.C., where blackouts are a frequent problem in the summer months, Mayor Vincent Gray urged President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency.

I think people are fed up with power outages, and we need a game-changer," Gray said. "We need an approach now that's going to stop how we stop this in the first place."

In Chicago on Monday, more than 250,000 Chicago-area customers were knocked offline by Sunday's storms; that number was reduced to 48,000 by Tuesday morning, NBCChicago.com reported.

In Ohio, some 300,000 customers remain without power.

Much of the devastation to the power grid was blamed on last weekend's rare "super derecho," a storm packing hurricane-force winds across a 700-mile stretch from the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean.

Two of the largest property insurers, USAA and Nationwide, said they had received more than 12,000 claims in total from the weekend storms. Most were for home damage. 

Officials feared the death toll, already at 22, could climb because of the heat and widespread use of generators, which emit fumes that can be dangerous in enclosed spaces. […]

Storms, dangerous heat to continue into July 4 and beyond



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