July 16 (Bloomberg) -- The heat wave baking the eastern U.S. from Chicago to New York, boosting energy demand, may end with thunder, high winds and lightning by the weekend.
A cold front is expected to crash into the heat July 19-20, starting in Chicago and then sweeping east to New York and New England, said Rob Carolan, founder of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.
"Chicago and Detroit are going to get clipped in the afternoon so they are going to have some severe weather," Carolan said by telephone. "New York City potentially Saturday afternoon, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as well."
About 87.1 million people live in the path of the two-day event, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. There is more than a 30 percent chance of severe storms from Madison, Wisconsin, to Buffalo, New York, July 19 and then from Cleveland to New England the next day.
Severe thunderstorms caused $15 billion in insured losses in 2012 and $25 billion in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.
From 1992 to 2011, thunderstorms and tornadoes accounted for the second-highest amount of catastrophic losses in the U.S., $130.2 billion, topped only by hurricanes and tropical storms with $161.3 billion, the institute said.
Carolan said the timing of when the cold front moves into the area will determine how severe the storms are. If it hits in the afternoon when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), high winds and thunder can be expected.
If the front passes through at night when temperatures are in the 70s, then it won’t be as severe, which is what Carolan said he believes will happen in New England. In New York, it is harder to say right now.
Yesterday’s high in New York’s Central Park was 94, 10 degrees greater than normal, though lower than the daily record of 102 set in 1995, according to the National Weather Service.