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Cold Front Ends Heat Wave but Not Drought

June 17, 1988|United Press International

A cold front pushed through the Northeast today, abruptly ending a five-day, late-spring heat wave that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. But forecasters said there was no relief in sight for drought-plagued farmers in much of the Midwest.

As the cold front swept into the Northeast from Canada, midday temperatures dropped to comfortable levels in the 70s--a far cry from the mid-90s that contributed to the deaths of at least 20 people in the Boston area earlier in the week. In Indianapolis, a 71-year-old woman who walked away from a nursing home died from heat exposure, an autopsy showed.

Low Temperature in 30s

Residents of Upper Michigan, northeastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin actually got a taste of some chilly weather early today. Low temperatures in those areas dipped into the 30s and 40s overnight, forecasters said.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms stretched from the central Plains through the lower Mississippi Valley into the northern and mid-Atlantic states today and forecasters said they were most numerous over New England.

But National Weather Service forecaster Dan McCarthy said the rainfall was so spotty it brought "a little relief to very dry areas, but not nearly enough."

He said most of the nation reported sunny weather again today.

Not Much Relief in Sight

The hot, dry spell has scorched crops in the northern Plains, the Corn Belt, Texas and the South. Farmers in Kentucky said corn leaves are twisting and curling--a sign of stress. In North Dakota, officials said soil moisture was at its lowest level since record-keeping began 30 years ago.

"There's not much relief in sight," National Weather Service forecaster Lyle Alexander said. "Most of the Midwest is going to remain dry."

In Washington, meteorologist Norton Strommen told a congressional drought "working group" today that light showers in the Corn Belt this week "will buy us some additional time," but he said long-range forecasts provided little hope to farmers plagued by the drought that has lasted through much of the spring.

And while today's cold wave snapped the five-day heat wave in the Northeast, McCarthy pointed out that the long, hot summer still is ahead. The summer season officially starts Monday.

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