Heat Wave Settles on Plains, Midwest

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Stocked up with extra water and wearing a short sleeve shirt, Nate Olson was ready for the heat Monday morning, saying, "the past week's been pretty bad."

It was 87 degrees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 9 a.m. Monday, a day that was shaping up to be the Twin Cities' ninth consecutive day above 90 and the 17th in July.

Olson, who cleans sewers for the city of Bloomington, said that last week, one of the workers on his crew got sick in the heat and was taking a couple of days off. But Olson, 20, said he would be working until 3:30 p.m.

"I have a big water jug," said Olson. "You just have to keep drinking all day long."

The upper Midwest and Plains was bracing for another sweltering day, with numerous heat warnings in place from Michigan to Oklahoma. Temperatures expected to climb into the 90s or 100s, and spark thunderstorms.

The heat index, a measure of temperature plus humidity, was expected to approach 105 to 110 on Monday in the Twin Cities.

Forecasts for above-normal highs were also posted for Monday along the East Coast, where triple-digit readings were in the offing by midweek from the Carolinas through southern New England.

In Cleveland, James Gilbert, 28, an unemployed car detailer was out looking for work on a muggy, 81-degree Monday morning with the temperatures headed into the 90's. He approaches staying cool methodically.

"Try to keep a lot of powder on and take a shower, a cold shower and put powder on," said Gilbert, wearing a long white T-shirt. "Basically you've got to bear with it."

In California, blistering temperatures subsided, but the death toll climbed to 163 confirmed or suspected heat-related fatalities as county coroners worked through a backlog of cases.

On Sunday in Bismarck, N.D., the thermometer hit 112 — 10 degrees above the previous record for the date and just two degrees shy of the all-time high set in 1936.

In Fargo, actors in Trollwood Park's performance of "Fiddler on the Roof," who wear wool coats for one scene, were assigned air-conditioned rooms during intermission. Dancers at a German folk festival, also in Fargo, eliminated a couple of numbers because of the heat, and attendance was down.

In Oklahoma on Sunday, temperatures reached 106 degrees in Stillwater and 104 degrees in Muskogee. For Oklahoma City, where the high was 102, it was the 17th time this year that the state capital has reached triple digits. That's compared with just twice last year and not at all in 2004.

At a Boy Scout gathering at Michigan State University in East Lansing, youths stayed in mostly un-air-conditioned dorms, and organizers had 20 to 25 medical professionals on hand.

Scouts were being warned to pay attention if they started feeling the effects of the heat. "Get indoors, take it easy," Order of the Arrow director Clyde Mayer said. "The Boy Scout motto is, 'Be prepared.' And I think our guys will be."