Posted: Jul 7, 2012 9:00 AM by CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) -- A cold front is expected in some U.S. states this weekend, bringing much-needed relief in communities baking in a lingering heat wave for more than a week.
The cold front will move across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes on Saturday, and into Ohio and the northeast the following day, bringing significantly cooler air, according to the National Weather Service.
But despite the cold front, temperatures could remain high until Sunday, with some grappling with the heat Saturday. The heat wave has left scores dead and hundreds of thousands without power.
Temperatures topped 100 degrees from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio, and many places in between Friday. Heat watches, warnings and advisories touched 25 states -- an area spanning roughly one-quarter of the nation and encompassing more than 115 million people, or more than one in three Americans.
The thermometer in St. Louis topped 105 degrees at one point, the ninth straight day it has topped the century mark in that Missouri city. That may sound bad, but it's relatively cool compared with the 109 degrees the National Weather Service is forecasting for Saturday.
St. Louis won't be alone in going from unbelievably hot to unbearably hot. Parts of Illinois will reach 105 degrees Saturday. And in Washington, D.C., the thermometer is expected to reach 104 degrees.
Forecasters said the cold front will help bring those numbers down some Sunday.
About 350,000 customers across 12 states and the District of Columbia will be suffering in this heat without the benefits of electricity, including power for their air conditioning and for refrigeration to keep their food edible, according to a CNN count from Friday night. Because utilities typically define each residential and business account as a customer, the actual number of people affected was not clear.
Many of these people have gone without power for a full week, thanks to strong storms fueled by the heat that barreled east from Indiana to New Jersey. Others have watched more recent but similar storms leave them in the dark.
The hardest-hit state continues to be West Virginia, where about 167,000 customers had no power Friday night.
Residents have been stocking up on ice to try and save food from spoiling in their useless refrigerators to the point that stores have sold out on it, CNN affiliate WSAZ reported.
Roger Harrah said he traveled from county to county, some 60 miles, seraching for ice Friday and finally found a store with some.
"I thought I better get some while I can," Harrah said. "I tell you what it is rough living without ice."
The extreme heat has also damaged roads.
Wisconsin received about 30 reports of roads buckling Thursday, according to transportation officials. Earlier this week, a viral video showed an SUV airborne after hitting a patch of buckled Wisconsin highway. Missouri has also warned drivers to be on the look-out for pavement buckling from heat.
Nationwide, more than 4,500 record-high daily temperatures have been set in the past 30 days, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
And since June 23, scores of cities have been the hottest they've ever been, on any day ever recorded. That includes 107 in Colorado Springs, 109 in Nashville and 106 in Atlanta. In Washington, the thermometer has gone past 95 degrees for nine straight days -- the longest such streak since modern record-keeping began.
The high temperatures have been linked to a number of deaths nationwide.
That includes five deaths -- of men ages 48, 58 and 59 and two women ages 81 and 91 -- because of "heat stress" in Chicago, city public health spokesman Efrat Stein said Friday. An additional heat-related death was reported in nearby Cook County, according to Stein.
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