ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Temperatures reached record highs across much of the Southeast on Thursday, while rainy weather cooled off many of the mid-Atlantic states.
The National Weather Service reported record highs of 103 in Atlanta, nearby Athens, Georgia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. Charlotte, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina, both saw 102-degree readings.
A 104-degree reading set a record in Columbia, South Carolina. The state capital's previous record of 100 was set in 1954.
In Louisville, Kentucky, meanwhile, a 101-degree reading tied the city's record for the date.
The weather service urged people to stay inside air-conditioned rooms or out of the sun when possible and drink plenty of fluids.
Atlanta also set a record Wednesday morning for the highest overnight low recorded in the city's history. Overnight temperatures only dropped to 82 degrees, according to the weather service.
Forecasters issued excessive heat warnings from Columbus, Georgia, to Norfolk, Virginia, warning that prolonged, dangerous high temperatures and high humidity would make heat-related illnesses likely. Highs in the upper 90s or above were expected to continue into Friday before the heat wave eases.
Further up the East Coast, rainy weather provided some relief from the heat.
In Washington, where the mercury hit 101 degrees Wednesday, temperatures fell back to 83 degrees by Thursday afternoon. And heavy rain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pushed temperatures back to the upper 70s a day after they neared 100. E-mail to a friend