As if it weren't bad enough that Saturday brought the fourth straight day of temperatures painfully in excess of 100 degrees, thousands in the Triangle found air-conditioned relief spotty when afternoon thunderstorms knocked out power to at least 17,000 homes in Raleigh and Durham for brief periods.
By early evening, Duke Energy crews had restored electricity to all but 124 customers in Durham after a high of 8,000 outages, utility officials reported.
The storms arrived later in Raleigh, where 8,900 customers lost power in the late afternoon, according to Progress Energy. The company was working to restore all outages by 9:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning as the heat index approached 110 to 115 degrees.
Today's forecast calls for a high of 98 degrees and another chance for scattered thunderstorms.
The Carolinas are at the southern end of a weather pattern bringing triple-digit temperatures as far north as Maine and west to the Mississippi River.
But temperatures are expected to fall into the mid-90s by Monday, including a high of 93 on Tuesday, with a chance for thunderstorms each day.
"It will probably feel a lot better," said meteorologist Katie Roussy of the National Weather Service.
But it won't last: Expect temperatures to approach 100 by the end of the week.
Police took precautions Saturday against the dangerous heat. Officers traded shifts every 15 minutes as they directed traffic at an intersection on Glenwood Avenue near the Durham County line where traffic signals were out, a police supervisor said.
Storms in central Johnston County caused a tree to fall on a house in Smithfield. No one was hurt, said 911 supervisor Jason Thompson.
The storms brought a brief respite from the heat.
"We were looking up at the temperature, it was like 102," Thompson said. "As soon as the storm came through, it was 82. It sure gave us a little relief."
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