WASHINGTON — More than 15 US states sweltered under weather alerts and warnings Tuesday amid a heat wave that flared in July and shows no sign of abating, particularly in the eastern United States, weather services said.
On Tuesday, the combined effects of high temperatures and humidity drove the heat index up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 degrees Celsius) in a number of states, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
From Texas to New York, "at least 16 states have either an excessive heat warning or a heat advisory," said Bruce Sullivan, a spokesman for NOAA.
"The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity generally create dangerous situation where heat illnesses are likely," he said.
Temperatures throughout the country averaged 75.5 degrees Fahrenheit (24.1 degrees Celsius) in July -- 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average July temperature for the period from 1901 to 2000.
Several east coast cities have seen record highs, with average temperatures of 83.1 degrees Fahrenheit (28.4 Celsius) in July, matching the all-time record for the month in 1993, NOAA said.
July was the hottest month ever recorded for the northeastern states of Rhode Island and Delaware.
The period from May to July was the hottest on record in the northeast and southeast regions of the United States. US weather records go back to 1895.
At least a dozen people died in July from accidents or conditions linked to the heat, NOAA said, adding that the toll is far from complete at this stage.
Each year, heat kills 162 people on average in the United States, more than are killed by hurricanes (117 on average), floods (65), tornados (62) or lightning (48).
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