Heat Index Rises: Hot Weather Hits Midwest, South

This weekend's fervid heat wave will linger into the upcoming week.

ByABC News
July 17, 2011, 2:02 PM

July 17, 2011— -- There is no need for a campfire this summer in parts of the United States: Just go outside and watch those marshmallows roast themselves.

This weekend's raging heat wave will linger into the upcoming week, threatening to set existing high temperature records ablaze.

Seventeen states have heat warnings in effect for the upcoming week and 36 states are expected to see temperatures at or above 90 degrees today.

A high pressure system anchored over the Great Plains will produce sizzling temperature in the 90s and 100s from Texas through the Upper Midwest and Accuweather predicts that the plains and Mississippi Valley will feel the brunt of the blazing temperatures.

Luckily for residents of the Northeast and Southeast, temperatures in those areas are expected to stay around the high 80s, perhaps sliding into the 90s.

Minnesota is under an excessive heat warning again today that will be in effect until late Wednesday. The combined heat and humidity readings for the Minneapolis area are around 110 degrees for this afternoon, shattering the previous record high on this date of 99 degrees, which was set in 1936.

In many areas across the country, the heat is not just uncomfortable; it's unprofitable. In Texas, 95 percent of the state is suffering from extreme, severe or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The parched land and arid skies have contributed to almost $3 billion in wheat crop losses, the Texas Farm Bureau estimates.

In Oklahoma, fields are barren, with no water to feed thirsty herds.

"We're selling 1,800 to 2,000 cows and it's just strictly due to drought," Bob Rodenberger, an auction owner in Oklahoma, told ABC News.

Oklahoma City felt like a blazing 114 degrees today.

From Arizona east across the southern part of the country this is also another concern. Scorching temperatures and already scorched land create a recipe for wildfires. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nearly 5 million acres have already been burned from Arizona to Florida.

In Chicago, these temperatures could prove deadly. As if the high heat and humidity, paired with the poor air quality alert was not enough, many residents have been experiencing power outages, a dangerous combination for a city that saw hundreds die over two days in 1995 due to heat.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, a low pressure system is keeping temperatures unseasonably cool for another day.