| CHICAGO, July 20
CHICAGO, July 20 A searing heat wave in the
central and southern United States has killed at least 22
people this week, and forecasters on Wednesday said the heat
was moving east and could last for weeks.
The National Weather Service said 141 million people in
more than two dozen states were under a heat advisory or
warning because of the soaring temperatures. The country's
midsection has been scorched off and on since late May.
In Wichita, Kansas, forecasters warned temperatures would
hit at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) every
day through Tuesday.
"It's just draining, physically draining," said Chris
Vaccaro, a Weather Service spokesman.
The inferno moved into the mid-Atlantic states. Temperatures
reached above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) in Washington, D.C.
and were expected to hit 100 degrees on Thursday.
Meteorologists said the heat wave could last into August
over much of the eastern United States.
The cumulative effects in terms of lost lives, stress on
the power grid and damage to roads and bridges could eclipse
the effects of the deadly heat wave of 1995, which claimed
hundreds of lives in Chicago alone, AccuWeather.com predicted.
"When all is said and done, with the number of days of
extreme heat and humidity of the current heat wave, it may be
more significant and impact a larger area," said AccuWeather's
Hospitals in Wichita treated 25 heat-related illnesses,
according to the National Weather Service. In Des Moines, Iowa,
16 people have been hospitalized because of this week's high
The high heat and humidity have been stressing U.S. crops,
particularly corn, which is now in a key growth stage, and
endangering livestock. Up to 1,500 cattle have died in South
Dakota because of the heat wave, according to the state's
veterinarian, Dustin Oedekoven, and he expects that number to
In Indianapolis, homeowners were being asked to stop
watering their lawns through at least Sunday.
(Reporting by Karin Matz, Sam Nelson, Bob Burgdorfer,
Meredith Davis, Steve Olafson, Tim Ghianni, Kevin Murphy,
Daniel Lovering, Susan Guyett and Brendan O'Brien; Writing by
James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia