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First the number of wildfires this winter and spring were unusually high.  Then the tornadoes and the extreme storms that hatched them were unusually numerous and destructive.  Then the flooding was, again, very unusual.  Now a whole lot of people across the US of A are suffering from the latest in a string of unusual weather events -- a massive heat wave:

On Tuesday parts of 18 states stretching from North Dakota south to Texas and east to Ohio were under a heat advisory, warning or watch, according to the National Weather Service.

When the humidity is factored into the mix, it will feel like 110 degrees in some parts of the nation.

"This is unusual," said Pat Slattery, spokesman for the weather service. "There's no sugar coating anything here."

Indeed, forecasters are calling this current wave of excessive temperatures and high humidity "unrelenting."

Across the country, this month's summer's searing heat has tied or broken high temperature records nearly 900 times, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

A half-dozen cities set new all-time highs. On June 15 it hit 105º in Tallahasse, Fla., and on June 26 records were broken or tied in Amarillo, Texas (111º), Borger, Texas (113º), Dalhart, Texas (110º), Childress, Texas (117º) and Gage, Okla. (113º).

In Oklahoma there's no place to hide - Oklahoma City temperatures have been 90 degrees or more for 47 straight days, topping a hundred nearly every day this month. With triple-digit heat possible through September, the city is on pace to break its record for such days (50, set in 1980).

In Enid, Okla., asphalt at a major intersection along U.S. Highway 412 buckled Saturday night from the intense heat.

The governor asked for a statewide day of prayer in the hopes of divine intervention.

Pray away Governor.  I wish you luck with that, but so far all the praying hasn't helped Texas.  What's worse is that these high temperatures are combined with high humidity, which means little if any relief from the heat even after sundown.

According to the weather service outlook, the central United States from North Dakota to Texas and east to the Carolinas, excluding parts of the Northeast and Southern Florida, will see excessive heat through July 29.

What I want to know is when are the meteorologists going to stop calling all the extreme weather we've experienced over the past decade "unusual?"  To me, this is starting to look like the new normal.  Droughts, heat waves, wildfires, 500 year floods every five years or so -- what we used to call unusual is what I now expect.  But then I'm one of those heretical, devil worshiping believers in climate change.

Meanwhile people and animals suffer:

The Schwan's USA Cup youth soccer tournament in Blaine, Minn., suspended play for a time Sunday because of heat indexes that soared to 110 degrees. Tournament spokesman Barclay Kruse said organizers wanted to avoid any heat-related health issues before they developed.

Police said heat may have played a role in the death of a 55-year-old man at a homeless camp in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday. Police found him in a small tent after others at the camp raised alarm. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

The heat also is adversely affecting wildlife. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service said last week that pregnant does are having difficulty carrying fawns to term and other fawns are being born prematurely.

Texas A&M University researchers determined the period from February to June was the driest such period on record in Texas, with a statewide average of 4.26 inches of rain. The next driest February-to-June stretch was in 1917, with a 6.45-inch rain average.

Yeah, it's unusual all right.

Originally posted to Steven D on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Hawks.

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