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Relentless heat was forecast for much of the eastern United States for a fourth straight day on Monday, after violent storms killed at least 15 people and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers.
Emergencies were declared in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., during the weekend because of damage from storms that unleashed hurricane-force winds across a 500-mile (800-kilometer) stretch of the mid-Atlantic region.
The storms came as sweltering temperatures topped 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in several southern cities, including Atlanta, where the mercury hit an all-time record of 106 degrees (41 C) on Saturday and reached 105 on Sunday.
Excessive heat warnings and advisories continued on Monday over much of the mid-Mississippi Valley and southern states, and temperatures were forecast to remain well above normal for a large portion of the United States.
'Catastrophic' damage to power grids
Powerful storms that brought wind gusts of up to 90 mph on Sunday knocked out power to more than 200,000 Commonwealth Edison customers in northeastern Illinois and about 100,000 remained without power on Monday, the utility said.
Power crews worked on Monday to restore service to homes and businesses, and officials in some areas said the job could take up to a week. Utilities in Ohio, Virginia and Maryland described damage to their power grids as catastrophic.
FirstEnergy utilities had restored service on Sunday to more than 314,000 of the 566,000 customers affected by the storm. The company said it expected to restore power to its Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania customers by Tuesday and Wednesday, but it could be late in the week before power is restored to all its customers in West Virginia.
Pepco, which serves Washington and much of its surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, reported about 233,000 without power on Monday morning. Baltimore Gas & Electric said about 235,000 customers remained without power, but it had restored electricity to more than 400,000.
In Ohio, severe storms knocked out power to about 1 million homes and businesses on Friday across two-thirds of the state. Governor John Kasich sought and was granted federal emergency assistance.(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Paul Thomasch in New York; Susan Guyett in Indianapolis; Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Jane Sutton in Miami and Alistair Bull in Washington)