Friday, July 06, 2007

Triple-digit heat searing West

A 1-year-old boy was found dead Wednesday evening in a locked car in temperatures approaching 100 degrees in Orofino, Idaho. He was locked in the car for about five hours when passers-by noticed him, and the boy's stepgrandmother was charged in his death, authorities said Thursday.

Around Las Vegas -- where temperatures reached 116 degrees Thursday afternoon -- transformers overheated and caused electrical pole fires because of all the people switching on their air conditioners, said Scott Allison with the Clark County Fire Department.

In Montana, farmers anxiously watched their crops and thermometers. High temperatures for a handful of days can harm crop yield.

"Prolonged heat is devastating. Four or five days of it is going to be hard," said wheat farmer Lynn Nordwick near Poplar, Montana. Watch how a drought is spreading »

In Spokane, Washington, the temperature reached 101 degrees, surpassing the record 100 degrees.

Northeastern Oregon residents experienced what was expected to be the hottest day of the year Thursday, with temperatures reaching 108 in Pendleton and 107 in Hermiston.

The heat wave began last week after a large high-pressure center developed over Arizona, said National Weather Service forecaster Paul Flatt in Boise. A weather pattern was pushing that high-pressure center north into Canada, Flatt said, but most of the West is expected to experience high temperatures into next week.

Meanwhile, another round of heavy rain drenched parts of eastern Texas early Friday. State emergency management chief Jack Colley said all of Texas' major river basins are at flood stage, the first time that has happened since 1957.

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