Hundreds of thousands endure extreme heat with no electricity

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(CNN) — Another day of blistering heat, and for hundreds of thousands, no power.

That’s the expectation Friday, when thermometers once again teeter above the 100-degree mark, from St. Louis to Baltimore and many communities in between.

More than 549,000 customers had no power Thursday night in 11 states and the District of Columbia, officials said.

The situation is particularly dire in places such as Fayette County, West Virginia, where about two-thirds of its 46,000 residents had no electricity, according to Theresa White, emergency management director.

Hundreds of thousands in West Virginia and other states will mark a week without power Friday after destructive storms barreled east from Indiana toward New Jersey. Others had their lights on, only to have them knocked out by more recent storms also fueled in part by the extreme heat.

“We’re starting to see light over the horizon, the only bad thing is the storms that we keep having that are knocking out the power that they do get restored,” White said. “That makes it really hard when you finally get one step forward and you end up three steps back.”

Two shelters remain open in the county, while free breakfasts and dinners will be offered in five other locations. They are among up to 25,000 meals a day that the Red Cross is expected to provide according to Becky Howard, the charity’s regional chief development officer.

And it’s going to be even hotter elsewhere, though that is hardly anything new for millions nationwide.

If the thermometer hits 108 degrees on Friday, it will be the ninth straight day of 100-or-higher temperatures in St. Louis, the weather service said.

Chicago’s forecast peak for Friday is 103, and Indianapolis should go up to 104 degrees. Even more distant places, many of them still recovering from last week’s storms, will again feel the oppressive heat, including a forecast 100 degree maximum in Washington and 103 in Baltimore.

Before it gets better “the record heat wave” could get worse. The National Weather Service forecasts “the heat will begin to expand eastward over the next few days, with high temperatures and humidity levels combining to create dangerous heat index values in the triple digits.”

Some relief could come “by week’s end,” when the Upper Midwest should cool as a cold front moves across the Great Lakes. By Monday, that could mean a 20-degree drop in some places.

The storms left at least 22 people dead from Ohio to New Jersey, 13 of them in Virginia. An additional three people in North Carolina died in a second round of storms Sunday.

CNN’s Jake Carpenter contributed to this report.