PHILADELPHIA - Highways buckled in Illinois and Wisconsin, water use was cut back in Indiana and those who had power in the mid-Atlantic were urged to conserve it, but the heat gripping much of the country was only expected to worsen Saturday.
Temperatures of more than 100 degrees were forecast in Philadelphia, authorities warned of excessive heat in the Midwest and the power outages surpassed a week in the mid-Atlantic, where extreme heat was expected into the weekend.
A major storm in the area last week left behind damage, which combined with the high demand for power to stress the electrical system's capabilities, a Washington-area utility said. Hundreds of thousands remained without power Friday night in the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, mostly in West Virginia.
Tens of thousands were still without power in the Midwest as well after storms there this week. Utilities hoped to restore service over the weekend in Michigan, where temperatures were forecast in the 90s.
The heat was blamed for at least 23 deaths.
Nine people in Maryland have died of heat-related causes in recent days, the state said. Authorities in Chicago said heat was a factor in six deaths there, mostly among older people. Three deaths in Wisconsin and two in Tennessee were also reported to be heat-related.
In Ohio, a man in his 70s and two women -- one in her late 60s, the other in her 80s -- were found dead this week, said Dr. Jeff Lee, a deputy county coroner in the central part of the state. He said all three were suffering from heart disease but died from stress caused by high temperatures in their houses. Temperatures inside were stifling, recorded in the 90s in two cases, with windows shut and no ventilation. The houses lacked electricity because of recent power outages.
"If they had gotten cooling, we would have expected them to survive," he said.
Record temperatures were set Friday in the Indiana cities of Indianapolis, South Bend and Fort Wayne, where temperatures could reach 106 degrees but feel more like 114. In central Arkansas, Russellville reached 106 degrees, breaking a record set in 1964.
Relief was on the way in the form of a cold front as the weekend ends, but forecasters expected it to bring severe weather, too.
The rain should help dry spells in many places. Much of Arkansas is enduring brown grass and seeing trees lose their green, and farmers in Ohio are growing concerned about the dry conditions, considered among the worst of the past decade.
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