Historic heat wave maintains it grip across Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The heat wave blanketing Idaho set a slew of new record temperatures in cities and towns across the state Monday and lightning accompanying a series of thunderstorms ignited the first few wildfires of the summer season.

New high temperatures were recorded Monday in at least 10 Idaho cities, including Lewiston, St. Maries and Winchester in the north, Idaho Falls and Pocatello in the east and McCall and Boise in the southwestern corner, according to the National Weather Service.

Boise topped out at 110 degrees by late afternoon Monday, breaking the July 1 record of 104 degrees in 1924 and just short of the city's all-time high of 111 degrees.

Forecasters predicted more of the same for much of the state Tuesday and Wednesday, with a cool-down expected to set in by Thursday as the ridge of high pressure now hovering across much of the region begins pushing east. | Photos -- Ways to Cool off in Boise

"I think what's been unusual about this system is it's really rare for it to move in this early in the summer," said Collin Baxter, meteorologist with the NWS in Boise. "It's been a long time since something like this has happened in late June, early July."

The hot, high pressure system has also brought with it above-normal moisture, the key ingredient to the thunderstorms that have hit pockets of the state the last two days. Thunderstorms dropped up to an inch of rain in the central mountains near Stanley and Challis, but also brought lightning blamed for starting at least eight wildfires in the south-central and eastern Idaho.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise reports only three large fires burning in Idaho, one southwest of Boise, another near Chubbuck and a fire that so far has burned more than 3,000 acres near Hollister.