NEW YORK - From South Dakota to Massachusetts, temperatures surged to potentially dangerous levels Wednesday as the largest heat wave of the summer stretched out and stagnated, with relief in many parts of the country still days away.
Most states in the U.S. had at least one region where the temperature hit 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, though the worst heat was in the Midwest to Northeast. Humid air made it all feel worse, with heat indexes in some places over 100.
In New York City, where it was 96 degrees, sidewalk food vendor Ahmad Qayumi said that by 11 a.m. local time, the cramped space inside his steel-walled cart got so hot, he had to turn off his grill and coffee machine.
"It was just too hot. I couldn't breathe," he said, turning away a customer who asked for a hamburger. "Just cold drinks," he said.
Amid the heat, officials in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., worked to keep a failing water main from cutting off hundreds of thousands of people, just when they needed it most. People in Prince George's County were asked not to run their faucets, water their lawns or flush toilets to keep the water system from emptying during emergency repairs.
It was hot enough to buckle highway pavement in several states. Firefighters in Indianapolis evacuated 300 people from a senior living community after a power outage knocked out the air conditioning. The state of Illinois opened cooling centers. The Environmental Protection Agency said the heat was contributing to air pollution in New England.