Midwest, East Coast Baking

Much of the country is blistering as a heat wave that has brought record-breaking temperatures to the Midwest and Northeast shows no sign of letting up in some parts until Friday.

The sweltering conditions knocked out power, depriving thousands of the air conditioning, electric fans, and ice cubes necessary to keep cool.

For millions more, the boiling heat and stifling humidity have added up to pure misery. While the Plains states might see some relief on Thursday, it is expected to take at least another day for some parts of the East to start cooling down, forecasters say.

From the East Coast to the Great Plains, temperatures inched into the upper 90s and the humidity made it feel more like 100 in some places.

In Atlantic City, N.J., the temperature was 98 degrees at midday, but the heat index — how hot your skin feels — was 108 degrees. In the nation's capital, temperatures hit 96 degrees, but the humidity made it feel like 106 degrees. New York's Central Park hit 97 degrees by early afternoon, but it felt like 100 degrees.

Today brought little relief for many who suffered through similar swampy conditions on Tuesday: Bismarck, N.D., was typical, reaching a high of 96 degrees, but with the humidity it felt like 113.

Check temperatures in your area at weather.com.

It got so hot in Minnesota that farmer Mike Peterson had to hose down his pigs. "On a day like this, they're just under more stress," he said.

Zoo officials in Binghamton, N.Y. were looking out for their own animals today, closing the city zoo early as the heat index soared.

Raising Heat Awareness

In Wisconsin, several Green Bay Packers football players overheated while training on Tuesday and had to be treated with ice towels and water. And in Newark, N.J., where the heat index reached 106 degrees, six firefighters suffered heat exhaustion while fighting a house fire.

The death of Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer from complications of heatstroke last week has raised awareness of the dangers of strenuous exercise in the heat. According to the National Weather Service, heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the country.

In this kind of heat, sitting in a hot car can be just as perilous. On Tuesday, a man died of hyperthermia in Oak Park, Mich., after being found inside a locked car.

In Wisconsin, officials say heat has played a role in 10 deaths in the past three weeks. Heat also was blamed for the deaths of a man working on a roof Monday in Madison County, Ky., and that of a 76-year-old man in West Chester, Pa., who had no air conditioning.

In cities nationwide, officials urged people to check on elderly residents, especially those who may not own air conditioners.

Utilities Feel the Heat, Too

The heat wave has electric companies nationwide bracing for high power demand and urging people to conserve energy.

Blackouts plagued residents in New Jersey and in Minnesota. About 12,000 customers lost power Tuesday in New Jersey but service was restored during the night. About 2,400 Xcell Energy customers in Minnesota had no power early today for a third day.

In Raleigh, N.C., power was knocked out temporarily to 20,000 homes as an energy substation exploded in a huge fireball for as yet undetermined reasons. Every police unit in the city responded to the scene, and 30 traffic accidents were blamed on the mess.

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