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Fox News Weather Center

First sweltering heat wave of the season to grip central US

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The hottest weather of the year so far will broil much of the central United States late this week and into this weekend.

While many may welcome summer heat, temperatures will climb high enough to be dangerous for people who have to be outdoors for hours.

Hot air that has baked much of the West since last week will shift to the middle of the nation over the next several days.

"The combination of heat, humidity, sunshine and other conditions will push AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures to 100 F or higher in some locations of the Central states, especially in urban areas late this week and into the weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

Temperatures in many areas from Texas northward to the Dakotas and eastward to Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee will reach the 90s on one or more days.

Major cities that can expect their hottest day of the year so far include Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Nashville.

Severe thunderstorms and a wedge of cool air will truncate or prevent the heat in parts of the northern Plains and Midwest.

However, cities such as Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Topeka, Kansas; Oklahoma City and St. Louis will be sweltering with highs in the 90s for five days in a row.

Portions of the Plains and the Mississippi Valley will meet the heat wave criteria into this weekend.

Temperatures could also challenge record high levels in parts of the Plains and the middle Mississippi Valley on one or more days.

The midsummerlike weather will offer an opportunity to hit the pool or lake for a refreshing swim.

"The heat will reach dangerously high levels and will raise the risk of dehydration, hyperthermia and heat stroke for those who cannot tolerate hot weather very well or who overexert themselves," Margusity said.

Each year, on average, heat is second only to flooding in terms of weather-related fatalities, according to the National Weather Service.

To lower the risk of health problems or a life-threatening situation, people who do not have a means to keep cool where they live should seek an air-conditioned environment on occasion and avoid strenuous activity as much as possible, according to the American Red Cross.

Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and wear light-colored, light-weight clothing.

Closing windows for 24 hours in a home that is not air-conditioned can be very dangerous. The heat can build up to life-threatening levels.

Friends and family members should keep in touch with elderly individuals and keep a close eye on small children and pets. Never leave children or pets unattended in a car. Temperatures can reach lethal levels in a matter of minutes even with windows partially down, when parked in the sun this time of the year.