Skiers put away parkas for sunscreen and warm-weather "flu" infected workplaces as a blast of hot air turned the weather calendar upside down, bringing a taste of Australia's February climate to the eastern United States.

Warm weather records fell in at least four dozen cities Monday - from normally frigid New England out to the northern Plains and down into the Deep South - as a heat wave that began Saturday kicked into high gear.The warmest places in the heat wave belt Monday were Baltimore, with a high of 72 degrees, and Tupelo, Miss., with 73. The hottest place in America was Palm Springs, Calif., where it was 88 degrees.

In Sydney, Australia, where it's summertime, the high was 90.

Cloudy conditions across most of the eastern United States were expected to begin cooling things off slightly today, but not enough to bring overcoats back out of closets.

The National Weather Service said the return to February's normally frigid temperatures would be gradual, with pleasant conditions lasting most of the week.

Meanwhile, Monday's high of 68 at New York City's Kennedy International Airport was not only a record for the date, it was a record for the entire month of February, topping the high of 67 set on Feb. 27, 1976.