Americans themselves in public fountains, spent all day in movie theaters and rode subway trains for hours on end this Saturday – just to escape the stifling heat for as long as possible. So far, the relentless heat-wave has wreaked untold damage across the country and cost no less than 30 lives.
Mercury shot up well beyond the 100 degree mark in several major cities over the weekend, which included 106 in St. Louis, 104 in Indianapolis and a record-high of 105 in Washington. Highways buckled under the heat and trains were sent from their weakened tracks – all before another deluge of summer storms was forecast.
All essential daily activities were transferred to either dawn or dust, but even in the early hours of the morning the heat was borderline unbearable.
So far, upwards of 30 deaths have been attributed to the excessive heat plaguing the US, which include 10 in Chicago and nine across Maryland – most of which were elderly citizens. In Ohio, three elderly citizens with heart disease were found dead in their homes, though the cause of death was attributed to the power-outages caused by the heat.
Two further deaths were reported in Tennessee, three in Wisconsin and three in Pennsylvania.
State official said that extreme temperatures had led to Wisconsin and Illinois highways buckling, while Maryland investigators are looking into the derailing of a subway train caused by the heat of the tracks. The 55 passengers on board were evacuated without injury.
Power outages continue to affect the lives of thousands of mid-Atlantic residents, where many have already been without electricity for over a week. At least 120,000 in West Virginia are still without power and a further 8,000 in Baltimore, leading to calls from Pepco for conservative use of electricity while the system struggles to cope.
While sudden and excessive spikes in temperature are not uncommon across the US, authorities have stated that the severe danger of this particular heat-wave its size and duration.
The country’s museums, galleries and movie theatres are becoming overcrowded sanctuaries for cool-air seekers from the moment they open their doors. What’s more, several local authorities have urged those without adequate cooling systems to consider riding out the heat-wave at local libraries and shopping malls – in some instances personally visiting elderly residents to warn them of the dangers.
In New York City, dozens of citizens have admitted to taking to the subway system and riding the trains for hours on end, just to get away from the sun.
Those living in close proximity to rivers and lakes however are being urged to exercise extreme caution, as the enthusiasm to plunge into any available source of cooling has already led to at least one death when an individual was swept away by whitewater in Maryland.