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Heat Wave Sets Sights on East Coast

Burke/Triolo Productions/Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This week, the East Coast is expected to get a taste of what life has been like for the Midwest and Gulf Coast for days and even weeks, but the heat wave isn't exactly moving on -- it's just growing larger.

Nearly 200 million sweltered in dangerously high temperatures Wednesday. There are heat warnings and advisories in 36 states, and temperatures in many areas have broken the 100-degree mark.

The National Weather Service attributed the extreme weather to a heat "dome" sitting over much of the nation. The "dome" is caused by a huge area of high pressure that traps and compresses hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico.

The heat wave has set more than 200 records since Friday. In Chicago, temperatures were in the high 90s Wednesday, although it felt like 105 or hotter.

To make matters worse, some area residents had to cope with no air conditioning because of a power outage.

In Minnesota, the heat index hit 134 degrees Tuesday. In Iowa, blistering heat buckled highways. And in South Carolina, residents prepared for a second major heat wave as the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Wednesday.

Schools in Tennessee, where a heat advisory is in effect for the western half of the state, rescheduled practices and scrimmages for their student-athletes as weathercasters predicted heat indexes of 110.

As some major U.S. cities prepared to keep public swimming pools open longer to help residents beat the heat, in Detroit, where temperatures rose into the 90s, county officials discussed closing the city's only water park because of budget cuts. Thirteen public schools in Detroit were opened as cooling stations.

For those in the Midwest hoping to take a dip in a lake or pond, the severe heat has also helped a dangerous algae to thrive, threatening swimmers and livestock. Blue-green algae can cause skin irritations and even damage the liver and central nervous system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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