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Upper Midwest bracing for dangerous and long heat wave

Children cool off in the fountain inside of Washington Square Park on a hot summer day in New York
Children cool off in the fountain inside of Washington Square Park on a hot summer day in New York

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A heat wave hovering in the central and southern states is expanding north to states not accustomed to intense and prolonged heat.

"This is going to be especially bad in the upper Midwest," said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will be in the 90's and possibly hit 100 degrees in some places. When humidity is factored in, the heat index could reach 115 degrees.

These soaring mercury levels are unusual for states like North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Vaccaro said, which makes this heat wave particularly dangerous in those places. In Minneapolis alone highs could reach 15 degrees above normal.

The heat was apparently to blame for the death of a 72-year-old man in South Memphis, Tennessee.

The man died Wednesday, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

The air conditioning in his home was malfunctioning and blowing hot air. And while a fan was in use, the windows were closed, the agency reported.

This is the third apparent heat-related death in West Tennessee this summer. Two others died in June.

On Friday 12 states were under heat advisories, warnings or watches from Texas north to Minnesota, and the heat wave is expected to move east by the middle of next week.

"It's going to be pretty significant," said Vaccaro.

"It's going to expand and worsen throughout the weekend."

So far in July, 882 high temperature records in the United States have been tied or broken, according to the weather service.

(Reporting by Karin Matz and Tim Ghianni; Editing by Jerry Norton)