About 2,000 barges were backed up along the drought-shrunken Mississippi River on Wednesday, and North Carolina farmers repaid a good deed by sending off 1,000 bales of hay to help Ohio farmers feed their cattle.
A new heat wave shoved temperatures above 100 in the parched Midwest."It looks like it's going to keep baking for a while," John Miller, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Minneapolis, said Tuesday as high- temperature records for the date, some 77 years old, were broken in 13 cities and tied in eight.
In Davidson, N.C., tractor-trailers were loaded Wednesday with hay donated in return for Midwestern farmers' generosity during a drought two years ago.
"This is a good cause, folks," said Jim Graham, North Carolina commissioner of agriculture. Another shipment of hay is going to Kentucky.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said he was considering a state drought emergency declaration; Wisconsin and Indiana officials said falling river levels could force factories to shut down; and the dry spell spread to the Northeast.
The news wasn't all bad. Heavy rain - as much as 5 inches - fell in southwest Alabama; powerful thunderstorms boomed through sections of Montana and North Dakota. Rain also fell in Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Mississippi and Texas.
The weather service's six- to 10-day forecast predicted above-normal rainfall from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the western lower Ohio Valley and for much of New York and New England.