As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, we likely are entering the hottest few days this year beginning Thursday.
Extreme heat and humidity will be a major story the rest of the week into the holiday weekend.
Heat advisories are in effect Thursday across the central and southern Plains, where the heat index will be between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
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But widespread heat is anticipated across the country.
Temperatures will reach the middle 90s from Denver to Dallas to New Orleans, and the lower 90s from Minneapolis to Chicago to New York City and south to Tampa.
Vulnerable groups should avoid being outside during peak heat in the late afternoon and early evening.
Severe weather threat from central Plains to Southeast
A few strong storms from the central Plains to the Southeast are possible late Thursday.
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The main concerns with this system are large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.
One last day of Saharan dust
The Saharan dust layer lingers for one last day Friday across Texas and Louisiana. While not as thick as in previous days, the dust will still create hazy conditions.
Elevated fire risk out West
A weather pattern out west will lead to gusty winds and low humidity in the Central Great Basin from Thursday and into Friday.
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An elevated fire risk is expected in parts of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.
In California, fire crews were able to stop the progress of a blaze that burned some 3,500 acres as of Thursday morning.
The Bena Fire burning east of Bakersfield began around 3 p.m. on Wednesday and grew rapidly, according to KGET-TV.
Kern County Fire officials said on Twitter that crews were working through the night to reach preliminary containment.
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No evacuation orders are currently in place, fire officials said late Wednesday.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.