Killer Heat Wave Moves to Northeast, MidAtlantic

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Year of Severe Weather

After a year filled with severe weather events, it would seem that even climate change skeptics may begin to change their tune.

In February, Chicago was hit with a blizzard that killed seven people and left cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive in nearly two feet of snow.

That heavy snow led to severe flooding from Illinois to New Orleans in the past couple months as the Mississippi River swelled in size. Thousands of people were driven from their homes as flood waters engulfed their neighborhoods.

Monster tornados wiped out huge parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo.

In Texas, 168 homes have been destroyed in what is a record wildfire season that has already blackened nearly 5,500 square miles. That is more than the previous two years combined, and an area larger than the state of Connecticut.

Heat Advisories Issued

Meanwhile, the high temperatures contributed to the deaths of four elderly people in Maryland and Tennessee in recent days, the AP reported.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the Baltimore-Washington region and a higher-level excessive heat warning for Philadelphia, where similar temperatures are forecast. Heat advisories also were issued for parts of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

Air quality alerts were issued across the region, including in New Jersey. Officials said ozone levels could cause problems for children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems. New Jersey's Health Department said men aged 65 to 84 make up the largest group hospitalized for heat exposure each year.

Public schools in Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey cut their school days short in response to rising temperatures.

As the heat wave has pushed east, it crushed previous record highs in St. Louis and St. Paul, Minn., where the mercury reached 102 degrees on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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