Kasey Lairsey, 6, enjoys watermelon after a swim in the Flint River while out with family and friends in Mitchell County, Georgia. Temperatures there hit the high 90s Sunday. The eastern part of the nation is receiving a break from 100-degree days.
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PHILADELPHIA -- The heat that baked much of the United States began to ease from unbearable to merely very hot Sunday as temperatures from the Midwest to the East Coast dropped to the 80s and 90s from highs above 100 degrees.
Cooler air swept southward in the nation's eastern half, lowering temperatures by 15 or more degrees from Saturday's highs, which topped 100 in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Louisville.
For many areas, the lower temperatures were ushered in by storms that knocked out power to thousands.
In New Jersey, a line of strong, rapidly moving storms knocked out power to nearly 70,000 customers Saturday night.
The heat of the past several days has been blamed for at least 35 deaths nationwide.
A 4-month-old girl died and a 16-month-old girl was hospitalized near Indianapolis after both were found trapped in cars during 105-degree heat Saturday. Deaths also were reported in Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
A slow-moving front of cool air from Canada started pushing down temperatures Sunday from Minneapolis to Detroit to Pittsburgh.
The temperature in Chicago, which had three straight days of at least 100 degrees last week, was 82 Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
New York City and Philadelphia still were hot, but not as oppressive as in recent days, with highs in the lower 90s, the weather service said.
Thunderstorms were expected Sunday from Maryland on south, with storms in the area most of the week. The storms also will affect the central and southern Plains states, said Alan Reppert of Accuweather.com.
The blistering heat wave that scorched much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation tied or broke nearly 3,400 high-temperature and low-temperature records across the country in July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said.
Extreme heat and lack of rain threaten the Midwest's corn crop and could lead to wildfires.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report Thursday showed drought encompasses more of the contiguous United States than at any time since the report began in 2000.
The Midwest is expected to stay mostly dry this week, Mr. Reppert said.
Power outages still plague more than 127,000 customers, mostly in West Virginia. About 31,000 AEP Ohio customers were without power Sunday.