Torrential rain swamped Kentucky, bringing dangerously high temperatures from California to South Florida. Phoenix hit an all-time high temperature, and rescuers in Kentucky rescued people from flooded houses and autos.
On Wednesday, a storm devastated a big Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in North Carolina.
Forecasters anticipate little relief from the heat and storms.
Meteorologists in Kentucky issued a “life-threatening situation” warning for the cities of Mayfield and Wingo, which were flooded by thunderstorms this week. On Wednesday, as more storms threatened, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency.
Forecasters expect up to 10 inches of rain in Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
On Thursday and Friday, the storm system is forecast to pass into New England, where the ground is still saturated from recent flooding. A mother and her 5-year-old daughter were killed after being swept down a high Connecticut river on Tuesday. The hunt for two children who became stuck due to flash floods in southeastern Pennsylvania resumed Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Phoenix hit an all-time low-temperature record of 97 degrees on Wednesday morning, increasing the danger of heat-related illness for those who were unable to adequately cool off overnight. The previous record, according to the weather service, was 96 in 2003.
Lindsay LaMont, an employee at the Sweet Republic ice cream shop in Phoenix, reported a lacklustre day as customers sought cover indoors to escape the heat during the day.
Heat-related deaths continue to rise in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located. Six more heat-related deaths were confirmed this week by public health officials, bringing the year’s total to 18. All six deaths did not necessarily happen last week; in fact, several may have happened weeks ago but were only identified as heat-related after a lengthy investigation.
At the same time last year, the county had 29 confirmed heat-related deaths, with another 193 under investigation.