A Sweltering Summer

A heat wave hitting the central U.S. shows no immediate sign of ending

Jul 18, 2011 | By Katherine Watkins

Millions of sweaty citizens throughout the central U.S. are diving into pools and lakes, sitting in the shade, and turning on their air conditioners as they try to beat the heat. With record-breaking temperatures and unbearable humidity plaguing the central U.S., 17 states from Texas to Michigan have all received heat advisories and warnings.

No End to the Trend

Even with the air conditioning on, "it's 82 degrees in the house," said North Dakotan Betty Smokov. "The heat is really oppressive and sticky." And according to the National Weather Service, the "unrelenting heat dome" is not likely to ease up soon.

In Oklahoma City, forecasters say it's possible that on many days temperatures will hit 100 degrees through September. On Sunday, the city had its 27th day this year with a triple digit temperature.

In western Oklahoma, the heat is even worse. There, temperatures have frequently climbed above 110 degrees over the past several weeks. "The trend is not our friend right now," said Daryl Williams, a weather forecaster in Norman, Oklahoma. On Saturday night, the asphalt at a busy intersection in Enid, Oklahoma, crumbled from the extreme heat.

Beating the Heat

Across the region, residents are keeping cool in a variety of ways. Cities like Chicago and Detroit are providing relief for their residents by opening cooling centers for those without air conditioning in their homes.

Others are heading to the water to cool-down. But in some cases, the water itself needs cooling. Dwight Anderson, an amusement park owner in Omaha, Nebraska, had to put two tons of ice cubes into his park's swimming pools to lower the water's temperature from 88 degrees to 82 degrees.

But not everyone is complaining about the heat. Sixty-five-year-old Detroit resident Marcellus Washington enjoyed the weather as he walked along the Detroit River to stay cool. "A day like this, you can't beat it. It's a heavenly day," he said.