July 11, 2011 -- As the heat wave continues in Oklahoma City, danger lurks in the lakes many residents use to cool off. Blue-green algae and bacteria that thrive in stagnant water and extreme heat have forced the closure of multiple lakes throughout the region.
Blue-green algae can be toxic, causing skin irritations and even damage to the liver and central nervous system. Oklahoma City has seen 43 straight days of above normal temperatures and has reached triple digits 21 times this summer. On Saturday, the city tied a record for the hottest day in July when the mercury hit 110 degrees.
With many of the lakes closed because of algae, public pools are facing a problem of their own.
"The area pools are not crowded because the water is so warm, jumping into it is like jumping into bath water," said Damon Lane, meteorologist at ABC News affiliate KOCO in Oklahoma City.
Lane told ABC News he expects the warm weather to continue until at least the end of July.
"There may be a couple heart attacks later, because of the high cost of keeping the house cool," he joked.
National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro said the humidity can cause temperatures in the 90s to feel as hot as 115 degrees.
The National Weather Service issued heat advisories and warnings in 18 states today. Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Texas all experienced temperatures in the 100s. Dallas, like Oklahoma City, has seen temperatures in the 100s for 10 consecutive days or more.
"Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have had high heat for weeks," said Andy Mussoline, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. "What we're seeing now is that the heat is expanding into more populated areas and eventually the eastern U.S. as well. Stories of heat exhaustion and heat-related deaths will likely become more common."
In Illinois, authorities say a 51-year-old man died of heat stroke in his mobile home, which had no working air conditioner.
In Chicago this morning, heat gave way to showers. Severe thunderstorms swept through the city delaying flights at both O'Hare and Midway airports. According to the Chicago Sun Times as of this afternoon more than half a million people were still without power.