A heat wave of historical import beset the heart of the eastern U.S. on the weekend of Easter 1976 through the first part of the following week.

Many record highs from Easter Sunday, April 18, still stand; some of these even being all-time maximum temperatures for the month of April.

Until a comparable mid-April heat wave in 2002, historical records for the East showed that this was the earliest outbreak of widespread 90-degree temperatures.

New York reached 96 degrees on April 18. While this mark was matched in the 2002 heat wave, it still maintains the record for the month's highest historical reading.

Other cities having a tie for highest April temperature on Easter Sunday of 1976 include Washington, D.C. (with 95 degrees); Albany, N.Y. (with 92); and Burlington, Vt. (with 91).

Boston still calls April 18, 1976, given its high of 94 degrees, the month's hottest day in history.

Exceptionally strong high pressure, comparable to those of many summer heat waves, set the stage for the abnormally early heat. Strong sunshine and vegetation still lacking leaves contributed to the extreme temperatures.

Story by AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews