Heat Wave Peaks Today in New York, Philly, DC

July 7, 2012; 6:33 AM ET
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Construction worker James Stutzman of Whitehall, Ill., takes a break from installing a metal roof on a barn to cool off and stay hydrated during a record-breaking heat wave that is over most of the country Thursday, July 5, 2012 in Chatham, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

The intense heat wave that has broken thousands of records from the Plains to the Eastern Seaboard will begin to lose its grip on the weather, but not after peaking for millions today.

Temperatures will soar well into the 90s and even past 100 in some big cities from near New York to Raleigh and Charlotte to start the weekend.

Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are all expected to rise into the low 100s, tying or breaking records.

"Saturday could potentially be the hottest day of the summer for Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other cities of the Northeast," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Of course, the thermometer reading, while impressive, won't do justice to how it truly feels.

The combination of the heat with intense sunshine and high humidity levels will yield AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures as high as 115 in major metropolitan areas during the peak heating of the day, between noon and shortly after sunset.

RealFeel® values this high are at dangerous levels for not only the old and infirm, but everyone who spends a prolonged amount of time outdoors. Hydration and frequent respites in air conditioning will be key to weathering the brutal heat.

Even folks seeking refuge at beach locales will have to endure the searing temperatures thanks to an offshore flow that will only cede to a sea breeze in some areas late in the day.

While the heat will peak in the big cities along I-95 today, record temperatures near or above 100 that other major cities such as St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati have become accustomed to will persist yet another day.

However, a cold front which has already erased the triple-digit heat from the Upper Midwest will further squash it to the south over the next few days.

Temperatures above 100 in Philadelphia and D.C. will be replaced with 90s on Sunday and then more seasonable 80s for the rest of next week. Accompanying the cooldown will be a reduction in humidity levels, making a world of difference to how it feels to be outdoors.

The transition will not be smooth, however, with severe thunderstorms expected to rock a portion of the Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

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