Sweltering Heat Plagues Storm, Fire Recovery Across U.S. 7/2/12

Sweltering Heat Plagues Storm, Fire Recovery Across U.S.At least 22 people killed by severe weather since Friday as crews continue to battle wildfires in Colorado.Posted Monday, July 2, 2012, at 2:06 PM ET

UPDATE: At least 22 people have been killed as a result of severe weather since Friday, mostly from trees falling on cars and homes, reports the Associated Press. About 2 million customers along the East Coast and as far west as Illinois were struggling to get by without power Monday morning, and officials warn it could be days before it returns. Since each household is considered a customer, the number of people affected “is well in the millions,” notes CNN.

Heat warnings continue along the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic in the aftermath of the weekend storms as hundreds of daily high-temperature records were broken.

Although the power cuts had led to concern over traffic problems, particularly around the Washington area, there was less congestion than normal as government workers were able to make use of a liberal leave policy.

“Hot and hotter will continue to be the story from the Plains to the Atlantic Coast for the next few days,” the National Weather Service said.

9:41 a.m.: While electricity has returned to many left powerless after a deadly storm slammed the mid-Atlantic region on Friday, outages are still widespread Monday morning as sweltering heat continues.

Reuters estimated on Monday that at least 1.2 million in the region were still without power. That’s down from the at least 3 million customers who lost power after the storm, which killed at least 13 people and left widespread damage from New Jersey to Virginia.

Meanwhile, cities in the region continued to experience record-breaking heat. On Sunday, temperatures hit about 100 degrees in the Washington area, where many are left without electricity to power air conditioners, the New York Times reports. The region continues to be at risk for more storms capable of knocking out power for more customers, as estimates for full power restoration stretch into next week.

Out West, crews continue to work to contain several wildfires burning in Colorado and other interior western states as hot, dry conditions continue. The Waldo Canyon Fire, the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, near Colorado Springs, Colo., is now 55 percent contained, allowing some evacuation orders to be lifted, the Associated Press reports. Those with homes in the neighborhoods burned by the fire have been allowed back temporarily to tour the damage.

Sunday, July 1: It looks like it could be several more days before electricity is restored to an estimated 3 million mid-Atlantic residents left without electricity after a deadly storm slammed the region Friday night. They’ll be left to sweat through a record-breaking heat wave affecting many of the hardest-hit states.

As the Associated Press reports, states of emergency have been declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. While the region is no stranger to the widespread damage left by hurricanes, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley explained to CNN that recovering from Friday’s rare derecho storm is, in some ways, harder than hurricane recovery:

“Unlike a polite hurricane that gives you three days of warning, this storm gave us all the impact of a hurricane without the warning of a hurricane,” he said.

At least 12 have been killed by downed trees or power lines from the storm.

Saturday, June 30: A severe line of storms slammed the mid-Atlantic region, producing hurricane-force winds Friday night. At least four are dead and 2 million are without power Saturday, all as the Washington area contends with a record-breaking heat wave. 

The line of storms, 100 miles long, caused outages from Indiana to New Jersey, according to the Associated Press. Winds reached 80 miles per hour, and it’s estimated that a full restoration of power could take up to five days.

Two children, ages 2 and 7, died in New Jersey early Saturday when a pine tree fell on their family’s camping tent, CBS News reports. Two others died in Springfield, Va., both from fallen trees: an elderly woman in her home and a man in his car.  

Temperatures hit 104 degrees in Washington, breaking records on Friday. The forecast for the city shows temperatures continuing to reach the triple digits. There’s also a possibility of even more thunderstorms for the region. 

The mid-Atlantic was hit by a derecho storm, a severe, rapidly moving windstorm that is a rarity in the region.

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