Heat will spread from the Midwest to the Northeast in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, sending temperatures into the 90s in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington.
The high in St. Louis is expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. The normal high is 80 degrees, according to AccuWeather Inc. Highs may reach 92 in Chicago and Washington.
"It looks like we're going to have some building heat across the middle of the country," said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, Pa.
Hot weather increases power demand to meet air-conditioning needs, and low natural gas prices, brought about by record production and low demand during the mild winter, have led many utilities to use it instead of coal to produce electricity.
Four of seven peaking power plants operated by Wisconsin Public Service, a unit of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group, are set to run on natural gas, according to the company's website. The plants are used during hot weather, when electricity demand is highest, the company says.
Walker said 90-degree temperatures will spread across the Midwest and into the interior Northeast through the weekend.
New York City may have temperatures in the high 80s this weekend; cooler breezes off the Atlantic Ocean will keep highs from reaching the 90s there, he said.
"It is still pretty warm for this time of year," he said. "The normal high is 74.'
The Weather Service is predicting highs in the low 80s for this weekend in Buffalo.
Following the heat wave, which comes during the Memorial Day holiday, cooler weather may arrive throughout the eastern part of the country, according to Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Md.