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Plains Frying Up Crispy

People sought air-conditioned relief in the library, did their laundry at night and sweated through the fifth day of a heat wave Wednesday that pushed temperatures over 100 across the Plains.

At least two heat-related deaths were reported: a roofer pouring tar in Texas, and a man in Omaha whose cancer death was hastened by heat stroke.

Several states reported cases of heat-induced illness, including 100 people who sought first aid during Tuesday’s All-Star baseball game in Arlington, Texas. More than 1,000 cattle have died in the heat in Iowa.

The heat wave is expected to linger in the region until the weekend, when temperatures are expected to drop into the upper 80s or lower 90s, and then move into New York and southern New England.

“I ain’t looking forward to it, not when I got to work in it,” said Junior White of Pittsburgh, who works on a delivery truck with no air conditioning.

Forecasters blamed the sweltering weather on an enormous high-pressure system over Kansas and Nebraska that shunted the jet-stream north, making a big chunk of the central United States feel like the desert Southwest.

Temperatures climbed past 100 at almost every weather reporting station in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska on Tuesday, with Hays and Salina, Kan., hitting 112 degrees.

In Omaha - where Wednesday’s high was forecast to be 105, the same as Phoenix - people sought relief in the 72-degree comfort of the downtown library.

“These last four days have been scorchers,” said Robert Hunt, who read a magazine before going to work at Omaha Steaks.

Librarian Lynn Sullivan said she did her laundry and her dishes at night so she would not have to use the dryer or the dishwasher during the sweltering afternoon.

The heat wave also is forcing more of the homeless into shelters.

“We’ve been full almost every night,” said Dan Hovanec, director of family services at Open Door Mission. “We’re bunking them on the floor and on the couch.”

“It’s hotter than hell,” said Victor Bassett, an Omaha man who was in a downtown park because the shelter where he had been living was too crowded.

Tags: hot, weather

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