Okla. governor calls for prayer to end heat wave

Mary Fallin
Oklahoma Governor-elect Mary Fallin (C) talks to reporters after meeting with Congressional Republican leaders and fellow Republican governors-elect at the U.S. Capitol December 1, 2010, in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It is relentless, dangerous and gripping the country. A major heat wave this weekend has prompted officials in 17 states to issue heat warnings and advisories.

On a temperature map of the nation Sunday, you'll find several large areas in the 90s and a patch that had highs above 100 degrees.

June 17 weather map
June 17 weather map CBS News

At least two hot weather-related deaths have been reported, and forecasters say the high heat is expected to spread over the next few days.

CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports that it's been so hot for so long in Oklahoma, the governor called for a statewide day of prayer in hope of some divine intervention

"I think if we have a lot of people praying, it moves the heart of God," Gov. Mary Fallin says.

For 47 straight days, temperatures in Oklahoma City have topped 90 degrees. There has only been one day below 100 so far this month, and it's expected to top the century mark through at least next Friday.

This summer's searing heat is setting new records. This month alone high temperatures have been tied or broken over 800 times.

Six cities not only broke records for a single day, but set all time highs since records have been kept: Tallahassee, Fla. - 105 on June 15; Amarillo, Texas - 111 on June 26; Borger, Texas - 113 on June 26; Dalhart, Texas - 110 on June 26; Childress, Texas - 117 on June 26; and Gage, Okla. - 113.

"Never in my life have I seen it this dry," says Michael Bostick, a Louisiana farmer.

Extremely dry weather is blamed on fires that have already burned nearly 5 million acres in the southwest so far this summer. This is the driest start to the year ever in New Mexico.

Aniyah davis, 7, kisses her cousin William Respes, 1, as they play in water from a garden hose to beat the midday summer heat Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Philadelphia. AP Photo

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday showed 29 percent of the country in drought, and 12 percent of the country in exceptional drought, the largest extent on record.

Three quarters of Texas is in exceptional drought. Forty percent of Oklahoma is there as well - a 10 percent increase in just one week.

All this means tough times for plants and animals .

"It's a tough year for all crops involved, and ultimately there will probably be some producers that don't survive for another year," says Jeremy Ross, with the University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service.

One shelter in Texas has been overrun with young deer rescued because hungry mothers can't feed their young.

Gail Barnes with the South Plains Wildlife Rehab Center says: "They were brought in because their mothers can't find food to eat and can't produce milk."

Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli says there is a really big area of high pressure which keeps expanding across the U.S and keeps temperatures high. As we head through the upcoming week, all that heat is gonna be moving eastward, which means New York, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina can expect temperatures near 100 degrees. That said, it looks like the high pressure system should break in about a week or so.