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Oppressive heat continues

Severe weather strands travelers as more cooling centers open

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UPI) | July 20, 2011

Severe thunderstorms in the eastern United States caused a number of flight cancellations but airports returned to normal Wednesday morning, officials said.

The bad weather forced several hundred passengers to spend the night sleeping in chairs or on the floor at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.

At Ohio's Akron-Canton airport the storms dumped 4.73 inches of rain in a three-hour period, the most precipitation since 1948, the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal reported.

The return of calm weather will have no effect on temperatures which are expected to top the 100-degree mark in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. by week's end, forecasters said.

"It's the hottest weather these cities have had since last July," said senior meteorologist Henry Margusity of AccuWeather.com.

The sweltering heat wave smothering a large part of the United States saw the mercury in at least 17 states hitting the 100-degree mark Tuesday and more than 40 surpassing 90 degrees, AccuWeather.com reported.

High humidity accompanying the heat is making it feel a lot warmer than the thermometer indicates, Bernie Rayno, senior meteorologist, said. "It's like getting slapped in the face with a wet sponge when you walk outside."

The major player in this week's heat wave is the position of the jet stream, an area of maximum winds high above the ground.

A big bubble of hot air in the jet stream is currently located over the central United States and has been sending temperatures soaring above 100 degrees from Texas to Montana and the Dakotas.

The dangerous heat wave is expected to continue across much of the central United States and into the east, the National Weather Service reported.

Temperatures above 100 degrees were recorded Tuesday in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

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