The July hot spell was focused Tuesday on the deserts of the U.S. southwest where Death Valley marked the anniversary of its record high temperature.
The mercury was expected to top 120 in Death Valley Tuesday, although it probably would not match the all-time high of 134 set July 10, 1913, AccuWeather said.
Death Valley and much of the border area between California and Arizona was under an excessive heat warning for highs above 100. Phoenix was well into the 90s by mid-morning.
The heat was also being felt to the north where red-flag fire warnings remain in effect in parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Wheat farmers in the region were also sweating the fate of their increasingly parched crops. "We're looking at a 30-40-percent drop in the usual yield if we don't get some rain here soon," Montana farmer Jerry Mann told CNN.
"You worry," Mann added. "But there's nothing you can do about it."
Temperatures in east Texas were down in the 80s at midday Tuesday as rain continued and was expected to be a possibility until the end of the week. Heavy overnight rain caused localized flooding in some areas, including Bastrop County where a dozen homes had to be evacuated.
County officials told the Austin (Texas) Statesman-American that up to 10 inches of rain fell in some areas Monday, cutting off roads to various subdivisions.
Temperatures were in the mid-to-upper 80s along the East Coast, although relatively low humidity levels softened the heat somewhat.
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
More links on Heat Wave