65 million people under heat alerts as scorching temps break records from Midwest to Northeast

Jahi Chikwendiu

A heat wave continues to scorch the Midwest and the Northeast with more than a half-dozen records expected to be tied or broken Thursday afternoon.

Around 65 million people remained under heat alerts across the eastern Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley, the Northeast and New England, with highs 10 to 20 degrees above average.

On Wednesday, Bangor, Maine, had a heat index of 106 degrees — the highest ever for the city. Boston also hit a high of 98 degrees, breaking the previous daily high of 96 set in 1923.

The National Weather Service office in Caribou, Maine, issued its first excessive heat warning ever Wednesday for the northern part of the state. It reported a temperature of 81 degrees early Thursday — the same temperature as in balmy Miami.

Temperatures from Missouri to Maine will once again be in the 90s on Thursday. Hartford, Connecticut, could hit a record at 98 degrees, and Manchester, New Hampshire, could approach its record high of 98 degrees. Bangor is forecast to hit a record high of 96 degrees.

Other cities where highs could be close to records include Pittsburgh and Scranton in Pennsylvania and Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse in New York.

The National Weather Service warned that high afternoon temperatures and warm overnight lows will even challenge some monthly and all-time records.

Locals without access to reliable air conditioning are urged to “find a way to cool down.”

Northern New England will cool down a bit by Friday, but the scorching heat will continue from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic, with highs in the mid- to upper 90s.

Around 47 million people were also under air quality alerts across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast. High ozone levels near the surface may result in unhealthy air quality in cities such as Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston.

Out west, heat alerts were also in effect in southern Arizona, Southern California and the valleys of Central California. Temperatures there will soar through the weekend, with highs peaking from 100 to as high as 113 in the desert Southwest.

New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency in Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Reservation because of a pair of wildfires blazing over a combined 23,000 acres.

The South Fork and Salt fires killed at least two people, forced the evacuations of thousands of people in and around the town of Ruidoso and destroyed around 1,400 structures.

Meanwhile, there was also a severe risk Thursday for nearly 13 million people across upstate New York and New England, as high heat and humidity with an approaching cold front will trigger severe afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Storms in the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest will also produce heavy rain Thursday and Friday that could lead to localized flash flooding.

Over 39,000 customers were without power in Michigan on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us as of 2 p.m. ET, after storms moved through metro Detroit on Wednesday night amid heat advisories for the southern part of the state.

The summer solstice is at 4:50 p.m. ET Thursday, marking the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In New York City, the period between sunrise and sunset will stretch just over 15 hours.