Power companies strained, schools closed early and soldiers fainted as heat waves brought more temperatures in the high 90s to the Plains and East Coast.

But in between a cool front took the sting out of the searing air across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes after a weekend of highs around 100 degrees.

Manhattan, Kan., hit 100 degrees by early afternoon, and thermometers in the normally hot desert Southwest touched 103 at Tucson and Phoenix, the hottest readings in the nation.

Oklahoma was expected to register as high as 101 degrees. "It's a little above normal, but it's nothing to get excited about," said Larry Mooney, deputy meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Norman. "It's summer . . . . Nothing really unusual as far as Oklahoma is concerned."

Along the East Coast, Pomona, N.J., near Atlantic City, hit a record high for the date of 96. It was 94 in New York City, two degrees shy of the record for the date.

Some people may have preferred to have been in Alaska, where Nome, near the Bering Strait, had a record low yesterday of 27 degrees. Or maybe in the Sierra Nevada range near Reno, Nev., where 3 inches of snow fell yesterday morning atop Mount Rose, the Weather Service said.

The Midwest got a break when a weak cold front slid southward during the night and stretched from northern Missouri across northern Indiana and northern Ohio. Temperatures north of that line were expected to be in the 80s with lower humidity, the Weather Service said.