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Temperatures peaked Wednesday during an extended stretch of high heat and humidity east of the Mississippi River. The mercury soared well into the 90s from the nation's capital to Florida to Texas, and just about everywhere in between.

By midday, Washington D.C., had already shattered its daily temperature record and tied its all-time October temperature by reaching 96 degrees, a benchmark last seen on Oct. 5, 1941. Newark, N.J., was forecast to climb to 91, 21 degrees above normal -- while New York's Central Park broke 90 degrees for the first time in October since 1941.

It was no different elsewhere up and down the mid-Atlantic. Baltimore reached 96 Wednesday, becoming its hottest October day on record. Philadelphia, meanwhile, broke into the 90s as well. By today, however, the city will see temperatures fall dramatically, with highs stuck in the lower to mid-60s as a cold front sweeps in with northeasterly winds and occasional rain.

In all, about 209 million people, or about 71% of the population of the Lower 48 states, faced high temperatures Wednesday of at least 80 degrees, with 131 million having temperatures at or above 90.

The heat on Wednesday followed a historically hot Tuesday, when more than two-dozen high temperature records were broken for the date in the Eastern U.S., along with 16 locations that set their highest temperature for any October day, according to the National Weather Service.

Farther south, that heat's not in such a hurry to leave.

Take Atlanta, for instance. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has never recorded a temperature above 95 degrees this late in the year, but the National Weather Service predicted a 96-degree high on Wednesday, today, and Friday. They'll finally "cool" into the 80s for the weekend, yet temperatures will still run several degrees above average through next week.

It's been a remarkable summer and early fall for extreme heat in Atlanta and the rest of the Southeast. The city hit 90 degrees 23 times in September. The average September high is between 78 and 86 degrees.

Birmingham, Ala., meanwhile on Tuesday logged a 99-degree reading -- beating the previous October all-time high record by 5 degrees.

The cause of the heat wave is a large area of high pressure anchored over the Southeast, which is pumping warm and relatively humid air northward, while stymieing rainfall and keeping relief-providing cold fronts at bay.

The heat dome even stretches back into Texas, where the 90s will stick around into the weekend. Temperatures will finally temper some by early next week as a cold front over the Plains and Upper Midwest sags south. The sharp front may drop temperatures 10 or 15 degrees in only a few hours west of I-35 late Saturday.

A Section on 10/03/2019

Print Headline: Heat hangs on even as October moves in

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