Americans celebrating Fourth of July face scorcher

Tens of millions of Americans in the Midwest and on the East coast will face brutally hot temperatures and stifling humidity as they celebrate the Fourth of July holiday on Wednesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings were in effect through Wednesday night, with heat index values – which combine temperature and humidity – in major U.S. cities such as New York City and Chicago expected to reach well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°C).

At least four people have died due to the heat over the last week, including a Pennsylvania woman who died while working in her garden on Saturday and a man who was running a race in New York on Sunday, CNN reported.

Photos: Blazing-hot heat wave hits New York City in June/July 2018

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Heat wave hits New York City, June/July 2018
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Heat wave hits New York City, June/July 2018
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- People cool themselves at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A man shields his head from the sun as he walks across the Brooklyn Bridge on a hot summer day, June 29, 2018 in New York City. Temperatures reached the low 90s on Friday and are expected to rise higher with increased humidity over the weekend. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: People cool off by the ocean at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, July 2, 2018 -- Pet dogs cool themselves at a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York City, the United States, on July 2, 2018. The highest temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius in New York City on Monday as a result of a prolonged heat wave. (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A man drinks water by the ocean at Rockaway Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: A woman walks along the beach at Brighton Beach on June 29, 2018 in New York City. Thousands of people are expected to flock to city beaches and pools over the next few days as temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90's in the New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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For the Fourth of July holiday, Dan Petersen, an NWS meteorologist, warned people celebrating outside to remain in the shade and drink plenty of fluids.

"Anyone outside in locations with expanded areas of heat is going to have to take precautions," Petersen said. "This is the peak of summer – the hottest time of the year."

Later this week, a storm front is expected to roll through and cool down the eastern seaboard for the weekend, Petersen said, providing relief to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia on Friday night before heading down to the Carolinas.

In a reversal of normal patterns, Petersen said, the hot weather will head west, hitting the central United States late in the week before reaching Los Angeles and San Diego on Friday. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee Editing by Gareth Jones)

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