(Reuters) – One-third of Americans endured severe weather on Thursday as a prolonged heat wave persisted in the South and Southwest, damaging thunderstorms hit the Central United States, and another round of heavy downpours threatened to trigger more flooding in rain-soaked parts of the East Coast.
Some 110 million Americans are affected by an oppressive heat wave that has blanketed a huge swath of the country stretching from Southern California to Miami for most of the month.
It was expected to last through the weekend in the Deep South and Southeast and into next week for the Southwest, the National Weather Service said.
Some 80 million Americans should see temperatures or heat indices above 105 Fahrenheit (40.5 Celsius) at some point in the coming days, the service said.
Phoenix hit 116F (47C) on Thursday, extending its record streak to 21 straight days with temperatures 110F or higher.
In Death Valley, California, the site of the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth – 134F (56.7C) in July 1913 – a 71-year-old man died on Tuesday afternoon when the high reached 121F (49C), the National Park Service said in a statement. It may be the second heat-related fatality in Death Valley this summer, the Park Service said. A 65-year-old man died on July 3.
The world just experienced the hottest June on record, as global land and ocean temperatures reached their highest level for any June since records began in 1850, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday.
In August, U.S. temperatures are expected to be above normal in all but the Upper Plains and Midwest, NOAA said.
Strong thunderstorms ripped through western Missouri, southern Illinois and northern Kentucky on Thursday, producing hail stones the size of ping pong balls and 60 mph (97 kph) winds, the National Weather Service reported.
The highest risk of flash flooding and severe storms was expected to persist into Thursday night in and near the Colorado/Kansas Border, the weather service said.
In Georgia, a burst of severe weather knocked out power in 150,000 homes and businesses, according to.
In western Tennessee, as many as 52,000 homes and businesses were without power on Thursday after strong thunderstorms knocked down power lines and trees late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, but the number of outages was reduced to 28,000 by Thursday evening.
Northern New York state and Vermont were under a flood watch with scattered yet powerful thunderstorms expected to roll through the area on Friday, a week after heavy rains caused widespread flooding.
Rainfall may exceed more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) per hour, causing flash flooding. Waterways remain high or near record levels and the ground remains saturated from previous storms, the National Weather Service said.