Americans in much of the country got a slight break from the oppressive heat on Sunday, one day after temperatures rose to above 100 degrees from the central states to the mid-Atlantic. Yet for many, the cooler temperatures weren't exactly be comfortable, falling only into the 90s.
Cooler air is sweeping southward in the eastern half of the country, bringing down some temperatures by 15 or more degrees from Saturday's highs. In St. Louis, the 13-degree drop from Saturday's high still will leave residents baking in 93-degree weather — the high Saturday was a record 106.
Temperatures in Philadelphia, Washington, and Indianapolis fell to the low 90s or upper 80s on Sunday after crossing the 100 mark on Saturday. Residents in Louisville, Ky., experienced a high of 95, one day after 105-degree temperatures.
For many areas, the cooler temperatures were ushered in by thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands.
In New Jersey, a line of strong, fast-moving storms knocked out power to nearly 70,000 in Ocean and Monmouth counties on Saturday night. By Sunday morning, Jersey Central Power & Light's website reports that more than 23,000 customers were still without electricity.
The heat also is blamed for more than 30 deaths across the country. A 4-month-old girl died and a 16-month-old girl was hospitalized Saturday in separate incidents in suburban Indianapolis when both were found trapped in cars during near-record 105-degree heat.
Residents from Iowa to New Jersey spent the day trying to stay cool. They dipped into the water, went to the movies, and rode the subway just to be in air conditioning.
If people ventured outside to do anything, they did it early. But even then, the heat was stifling.
"It was baking on the 18th green," said golfer Zeb Rogerson, who teed off at 6 a.m. at an Alexandria, Va., golf course but was sweltering by the end of his round.
Officials said the heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin. In Maryland, investigators said heat likely caused rails to kink and led a Metro train to partially derail in Prince George's County on Friday afternoon. No one was injured, and 55 passengers were safely evacuated.
Micah Straight, 36, brought his three daughters to dance in jets of water spurting from a "sprayground" near Philadelphia's Logan Square fountain to cool off.
"We got here early, because I don't think we'll be out this afternoon — we'll be in the air conditioning," he said. "So I wanted to get them out, get some sunshine, get tired."
In South Bend, Ind., serious kayakers took to the East Race Waterway, a 1,900-foot long man-made whitewater course near downtown.
"A lot of times I'll roll over just to cool off," said Robert Henry of Carmel, just north of Indianapolis. "The biggest challenge is walking coming back up carrying a kayak three-eighths of a mile in this heat."
In Manhattan, customers who stepped in to see "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" at an IFC movie theater were there for more than entertainment.
"Of course we came to cool off!" said John Villanova, a writer who was on his second sweaty T-shirt of the day — expecting to change again by evening.
He said that earlier, he rode a Manhattan subway back and forth for half an hour, with no destination in mind, "because it really keeps you cool."
One man figured out a way to beat the heat: stay in the car. Roger Sinclair of Batavia, Ill., was headed home Saturday from Detroit, where he'd spent a few days visiting an old friend and catching Friday night's Tigers game. The Tigers won 4-2, but the conditions were less than ideal.
"It was 97 at the first pitch and still in the 80s at the time of the last out," he said. "It was tough. There was no breeze."
Sinclair said he had been spending hours in his air-conditioned car to stay out the worst of the heat.
In Chicago, street magician Jeremy Pitt-Payne said he has been working throughout the three-day stretch of triple-digit temperatures, but acknowledged that he might doff the Union Jack leather vest by the end of the day, even though it's part of his British magician character along with the black top hat.
But he had a secret for beating the heat — he starts his shows at 2 p.m. "when the Trump Tower is gracious enough to block out the sun" along his stretch of sidewalk.
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