Chicago: People flocked to pools, beaches, and cooling centers in a swath of the Midwest and South spanning from northern Florida to the Great Lakes on Wednesday as a heat wave pushed temperatures into the 90s and beyond and may have caused the deaths of at least two people.
The National Weather Service maintained an excessive heat warning through Wednesday evening for most of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, which have been dealing with the sticky humidity and soaring temperatures since Tuesday. And the heat advisory in place for the Midwest and South stretched all the way eastward to the South Carolina shoreline, covering an area that is home to roughly a third of the country’s population.
Meteorologists warned that the high temperatures could be dangerous or deadly for some people and advised residents to stay hydrated, remain indoors if possible and take precautions if they must be outside. Driving home the point, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office tweeted Wednesday that it was investigating the deaths of an 89-year-old man and 39-year-old woman for “probable” connections to the heat.
“There are a lot of vulnerable populations exposed to this heat,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. “I am particularly concerned about the elevated nighttime temperature. That’s what kills people if they are not adequately prepared or have the appropriate resources. Hurricanes get the headlines, but heat kills more people every year in the U.S.”