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Severe Weather Affects Eastern, Midwestern United States

A severe heat wave has clamped down on parts of the United States, causing many residents to scramble for shade or just stay indoors with the air conditioner on.

In the Washington area, weather experts warned of dangerous conditions as temperatures hovered around the 38 degree Celsius mark. Further south, in Richmond, Virginia, 40 degree Celsius temperature readings were recorded.

Severe heat was also reported in other states along the U.S. east coast.

Elsewhere, heavy rains drenched parts of the midwestern United States. In Chicago, Illinois, officials say more than 18 centimeters of rain fell early Saturday, causing flooding and disrupting travel.

In nearby Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency in Milwaukee county after severe storms and flash flooding forced people from their homes, damaged infrastructure and led to power outages.

Officials in Iowa also say flooding has caused a dam to fail in the eastern part of the state and that communities downstream could flood. Iowa Governor Chet Culver has activated the National Guard and residents who live in the vicinity of the dam have been evacuated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.