By RON TODTAssociated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - 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.
One man in the state figured out a way to beat the heat: stay in the car.
That was the plan for 60-year-old Roger Sinclair of Batavia, Ill., who was headed home Saturday morning from Detroit, the city of his birth.
Sinclair, a dispatcher at a plumbing company's call center, visited the Motor City over the past few days to see an old friend and catch Friday night's Tigers game.
While he enjoyed the game, a 4-2 Tigers win, 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."
Before heading home Saturday, though, Sinclair wanted to see a Great Lakes ore carrier make its way through the city's waterways. So, he tracked one down the Detroit River, driving ahead of it and parking on Belle Isle, which sits in the middle of the river between the city and Windsor, Ontario.
Sinclair, standing along the riverbank and shielding his eyes from the sun, watched the Algomarine slowly head west.
"You just don't see this in Chicago," he said.
As the vessel traveled out of sight, Sinclair walked to his car.
"This is how I've dealt with it the last couple of days," he said. "A lot of time in the car."
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.
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.
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.
Residents of and visitors to the tiny hamlet of Hell, Mich., had their own ways of dealing with the high temperatures.
"Every day is a good day to be in Hell," said businessman John Colone, the community's unofficial mayor, who owns a canoe and kayak rental and Scream's Ice Cream. "More people have told you to go to our town than anywhere else on Earth."
Colone said the number of people heading out on the lake recently was lower than normal.
"It's just been so hot," he said.
Still, Colone said, he's encountered a number of tourists who wanted to say they'd been to Hell on one of the hottest days of the year.
Associated Press writer Mike Householder in Detroit contributed to this report.
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