Heat blamed for at least 46 deaths, relief on the way

(CBS News) Two weeks of scorching temperatures are being blamed for at least 46 deaths across the United States, and the sweltering heat has shattered more than 2,100 temperature records since July 1 - and it's only three weeks into the summer.

While millions of Americans from the Midwest to the East Coast are getting a bit of a break Monday from the oppressive heat - thanks to a massive cold front pushing in from Canada - out West, they won't be so lucky. A high-pressure system is already pushing temperatures well above 100 degrees in some cities.

Temps cool slightly, but U.S. still roasting

The hot weather has damaged roads and buildings. Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees in New York City this past weekend. Utility officials say the sweltering heat most likely triggered a transformer fire in Manhattan. The underground transformer burst into flames, torching a nearby car. The flames spread to a 16-story building, but luckily nobody was injured.

"This heat wave is about as unusual as they get," WCBS New York meteorologist Lonnie Quinn said. "We had every single state in the lower 48 hit 90 or 100 degrees because of this heat wave. That's unheard of."

The blistering heat has taken its toll on the nation's infrastructure. Phillip Dugaw snapped a photo of his U.S. Airways flight in Washington, D.C., Friday. The trip was delayed for three hours after the plane's wheels sank into the melting tarmac.

"The pilots went out and they were kind of chuckling that because of the heat," Dugaw said, "the plane had sunk several inches into the asphalt."

From Madison, Wis., to Minneapolis, Minn., roadways buckled under the scorching sun. It was so hot in Maryland, the Metro track expanded, forced three train cars to derail and triggered big delays.

As temperatures rose, so did crime in cities like Chicago and New York, where there have been more than a dozen murders in the past six days. Still, homicides are on track to reach a record low this year.

  • Seth Doane

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