Chicago swelters under Excessive Heat Warning, previous high temp record broken at O'Hare

Chicago heat index soars past 100 degrees, record heat and temperatures recorded Wednesday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One of the strongest, most brutal heat domes on record has sent temperatures in the Chicago area soaring to record-breaking heights, as humidity pushed the heat index well past 100.

Excessive heat warnings, the most severe form of heat alert, spanned more than 1,100 miles on Wednesday, from the Gulf Coast northward to central Minnesota.

An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for the entire Chicago Area until 8 p.m. Thursday.

Excessive heat warnings, the most severe form of heat alert, spanned more than 1,100 miles on Wednesday, including the entire Chicago area.

It's about as humid as it will ever get in the Chicago area, with the dew point hitting 80 at one point this morning at O'Hare, said ABC7 meteorologist Larry Mowry.

Chicago heat wave safety: Cooling centers, heat related illness symptoms and treatment, and other ways to stay cool

As a result, by the afternoon heat index values were above 110 degrees in most locations.

By 4 p.m., the air temperature high was recorded at 98 at O'Hare, which breaks the previous record of 97 set in 1947.

The lows Wednesday night will only be around 80, with heat index value remaining in the upper 80s and 90s. Mowry said he expects the area's heat index values to stay over 100 through about 10 p.m.

More than 2,000 people across the area are without power. In Skokie, a fire spread through electrical lines in the backyard of a home. ComEd said a tree fell on their equipment, damaging a transformer.

Still, once the sun went down people headed out into the hot, humid night in the city and the suburbs.

At Wrigley Field movie night, the best spot to view the film was right in front of the misters. At Northerly Island, concertgoers baked in the heat as they waited to see 5 Seconds of Summer. Some fans line dup as early as 5 a.m. for a spot in front of the stage

"Everyone's kind of just taking care of everyone in the line, which has been really nice. We haven't really had any problems today," said concertgoer Bella Jevitz.

One fan said she jumped in the lake to stay cool. And while beaches offered some relief, it was only in the water; at 31st Street Beach, the temperature of the sand topped 107 degrees.

"Walking on the sand is like walking on the Sahara right now, or the Mojave. I've been there, and it is hot," said Christopher Bradford, beach goer.

On the South Side, Father Michael Pfleger handed out water. The heat is especially dangerous to people with little or no air conditioning, or people who are unhoused.

As the sun set in the suburbs, concertgoers flocked to Ravinia to see Buddy Guy, but the heat caused one attendee to collapse.

In the suburbs, the excessive heat caused a man to collapse at Ravinia before the start of the Buddy Guy concert. Medics and concertgoers rushed to help him.

"We could see that he wasn't feeling too well and then he collapsed," said Laurette McGee.

"The heat had got to him, it was too much for him," said Carroll McGregor.

Ravinia officials said the man who collapsed was successfully treated and enjoyed the concert.

Chicago takes steps to protect residents, students from heat

The Chicgao heat wave and a massive Midwestern heat dome sent temperatures soaring Wednesday, as school worked to keep students safe and cool.

Inside Chicago Public Schools, safety committees were put in place to make sure kids are safe in this heat.

Parents said they received emails and automated calls to let them know about the steps being taken to keep classrooms and students cool.

"Letting us know what precautions to take, so they are keeping us informed and the school building cool, so that was great. We were really pleased," said Tiffany Ingram, CPS parent

"Especially for my son, he had a kidney transplant, so I have to make sure he has extra water with him," parent Sonia Sanchez said. "I made him extra ice packs to have with him and told him to call me if he gets nauseated."

"We've done it before, so it's not a big deal for me and she likes to come to school so even if I tell her you are staying home she says, 'No, I want to go,'" parent Emilia Oseguera said.

CPS Chief Operating Officer Charles Mayfield said they anticipated the weather, with 225 spare air conditioner units on hand in case a school runs into problems. He said they used some contingency plans with a couple power problems at some schools.

"We worked with ComEd to make sure we addressed the situation, and they had backup generators so we just relocated until the power was restored," he said.

Inside schools, CPS implemented its heat safety plan, calling for recess and all PE classes to be moved indoors.

Staff will turn off overhead lights and unused equipment in classrooms to keep things cool. Classes that are in rooms that are exposed to sunlight are being moved to auditoriums, interior or lower level rooms as well.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union said they have safety committees inside of each school ready to quickly address any heat-related issues they may come up this week.

"We have pledged to be in contact with each other today as our members experience either the proper implementation or the improper implementation so things can be dealt with in real-time," CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said.

Teachers said their priority will be to make sure the heat doesn't affect learning.

"It's difficult to teach in a room that's above normal temperatures where the teacher might not be able to focus 100%, the students aren't able to focus 100%, God forbid you don't want anyone passing out, so it's difficult to learn and work in conditions like that," social studies teacher Kevin Moore said.

Safe Passage workers will also be out to make sure kids get out of the heat quickly.

"Wet your towel up real good and put water on your face, because this heat ain't no joke. You could have heat stroke," said Safe Passage worker Tywann Harris.

Suburbs try to stay safe in record high temperatures

Schools moved to e-learning, families flocked to splash pads and outdoor workers did their best to stay cool in the suburbs Wednesday.

Downers Grove students got a couple extra days of summer break after the district delayed the first day of school until Friday because of the intense heat. Other schools moved to e-learning and canceled outdoor athletics.

But not everyone can stay inside during the heat wave. David Carlyon in Wheaton and Dave Hauke in Clarendon Hills are both hard at work in the sweltering afternoon.

"I don't do well in the heat. I picked the wrong career," said Clayton, who works for Air Handlers Heating & Cooling, with a laugh.

"I'm going about every 15 minutes and take a break and drink a quart of water," said Hauke, who works for CKS Builders.

Carlyon was working on a sluggish AC unit at his daughter's home. He said in these conditions it's critical to make sure your AC is working properly

"If they can't breathe, they work twice as hard. If they work twice as hard, your bill goes up, everything goes up and you're not cooling," he said.

For Hauke, working in the elements has become second nature.

"If it's going to be hot, I just bring a lot of t-shirts and my wife loves it because all of a sudden I come home with five t-shirts that have been worn," he said.

With some pools closed, families cooled off and young friendships formed at splash pads.

With the wild heat hanging around, people will do just about anything to cool off. It pays to know someone with a pool.

The Downers Grove Park District also canceled all of its outdoor activities Wednesday and Thursday due to the extreme heat.

By Friday, more than 65 million people will have experienced a temperature above 100 degrees.

This latest heat wave is exceptional even for this record-breaking summer. It's being fueled by a heat dome, a strong area of high pressure that traps and intensifies hot air at the surface, which has been measured at record levels in multiple states.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report