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Temps cool off slightly, but it's still hot

PHILADELPHIA -- Much of the country got a slight break from the oppressive heat yesterday, a day after temperatures rose above 100 degrees from the central states to the mid-Atlantic. Yet, the cooler temperatures weren't exactly comfortable, falling only into the 90s.

Cooler air is sweeping southward in the eastern half of the country, bringing down some temperatures by 15 or more degrees from Saturday's highs. In St. Louis, the 13-degree drop still left residents baking in 93-degree weather; the high Saturday was a record 106.

Temperatures in Philadelphia, Washington and Indianapolis fell to the low 90s or upper 80s after crossing the 100 mark on Saturday.

For many areas, the cooler temperatures were ushered in by thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands.

In New Jersey, a line of strong, fast-moving storms knocked out power to nearly 70,000 in Ocean and Monmouth counties Saturday night; yesterday morning, more than 23,000 customers were still without electricity.

The heat is blamed for more than 30 deaths. A 4-month-old girl died and a 16-month-old girl was hospitalized Saturday in separate incidents in suburban Indianapolis when both were found trapped in cars during near-record 105 degrees.

Residents trying to stay cool dipped into the water, went to the movies and in Manhattan rode the subway to be in air conditioning.

The heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin. In Maryland, investigators said it was probably heat that caused rails to kink and led a Metro train to partly derail in Prince George's County on Friday afternoon.

Micah Straight, 36, took his three daughters to dance in jets of water spurting from a "sprayground" near Philadelphia's Logan Square fountain.

In Manhattan, customers who stepped in to see "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" at an IFC movie theater were there for more than entertainment.

John Villanova, a writer, was on his second sweaty T-shirt of the day. He said he rode a subway back and forth for half an hour, with no destination in mind, "because it really keeps you cool."

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