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Extreme Heat Continues in US

Visitors get some relief from a water sprinkler set up near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Saturday, July 7, 2012.
A record-breaking U.S. heat wave is expected to peak Saturday with temperatures topping 38 degrees Celsius in many parts of the Midwest and East.

Excessive heat warnings were in effect in more than 10 states from Kansas to New Jersey.

The unforgiving temperatures have persisted for more than a week and been blamed for more than 20 deaths.

The National Weather Service calls heat the nation's "number one weather-related killer," causing more deaths each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

On Friday, the nation's capital reached a record ninth straight day at 35-plus degrees. But forecasters say Saturday could be the hottest day yet.

The continued heat comes as hundreds of thousands of people remain without power and without air conditioning after violent storms battered the eastern U.S. a week ago.

But relief is on the way. Cooling is expected to begin this weekend but forecasters warn it could be accompanied by more severe storms.

The days of sweltering weather have broken nearly 5,000 daily heat records and more than 260 all-time heat records nationwide in the past 30 days, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The heat wave has been the result of a high-pressure system hovering for days over the eastern half of the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.