Temperatures in Death Valley, Las Vegas already challenging records in the latest Southwest heat wave
Geoff Cornish talks with Abby Wines an official at Death Valley National Park, California, about how she and her team manage the heat and what you can do to stay safe and cool.
Extreme heat in Death Valley pushed the mercury up to 128 degrees Fahrenheit about three weeks ago, far above what's normal there for this time of year. And another round of above-average heat was building in the region, sent temperatures skyrocketing to begin the weekend.
On Friday, the temperature at Death Valley soared to 130 degrees, breaking the previous daily record high of 129 set back in 1913, according to the National Weather Service. This reading comes within 4 degrees of the all-time world record of 134 F set there in 1913. The 134-degree mark happens to be the world record for the highest temperature ever measured on Earth.
High temperatures on Saturday and Sunday are also forecast to reach within a few degrees of 130 in Death Valley, and this reading may repeat on Monday.
Death Valley, along with parts of Nye County and the Mojave Desert, is under an excessive heat warning through 8 p.m. PDT Monday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). On Wednesday, the first day of that warning, the temperature soared to 126 degrees in Death Valley. On Thursday, the high reached 126 degrees yet again, and Friday morning the mercury failed to fall below 100, reaching 130 later that afternoon.
On Friday, Las Vegas, Nevada, set a new daily record-high temperature of 116, breaking the previous record of 113, which was set back in 1943 and tied in 2012. This also came within 1 degree of the all-time record of 117, set in June 2017 and July 2005. Saturday is forecast to have similar readings for the city.
On Friday, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport was experiencing multiple delays due to the excessive heat.
According to Flight Aware, 117 flights in the airport were delayed.
The AccuWeather.com Forecast for Death Valley, CA, as of July 10, 2021
Last month during the heat wave that gripped the Southwest, AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell was on the ground in Death Valley at the height of the heat, and he spoke with people from around the country who happened to have been visiting during the hot spell.
"This is exceptionally hot. It’s scary how hot it is," Linda Utz of Titusville, Florida, marveled. "We planned this trip last October and made reservations," she explained to Wadell. "While we knew it would be warm because it was summer, we never expected this type of heat."
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2020, file photo, Steve Krofchik cools off with a bottle of ice water on his head in Death Valley National Park, Calif. Climate-connected disasters seem everywhere in the crazy year 2020, but scientists Wednesday, Sept. 9, say it'll get worse. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
And as far as it goes for people who spend almost all of their time in Death Valley, "This is an extremely hot place for us to live and work, as well as it is for people to visit," Abby Wines, Death Valley National Park spokesperson, said. "There is something to be said for climatizing, so a person who acclimatizes to a high altitude, their body can adjust somewhat to dealing with extreme heat."
The stretch of weather extending through the weekend could bring “dangerously hot conditions,” according to the NWS. The western Mojave Desert and Owens Valley could have temperatures as high as 110 degrees. The region could have record-rivaling or record-breaking temperatures.
Bishop, California, already had a record-high temperature of 105 degrees Tuesday, tying a previous record set in 1945, according to a record report from the NWS. On Wednesday, the mercury topped out at 107 degrees, breaking the record of 106 degrees set in 1989 and 2017. A third consecutive day of record heat occurred on Thursday, with the mercury soaring to 109 degrees. This easily bested the old record of 106 degrees set in 2008 and 2017.
Just last week, the Northwest battled a round of its own record-breaking temperatures. The historic heat wave stretched well into Canada as Lytton, British Columbia, broke a national record at 121 degrees, Canada's government weather service reported. Within days of reaching that mark, the small town was devastated by wildfires, which consumed 90% of the village.
British Columbia’s chief coroner said that there were 486 reports of "sudden and unexpected" deaths in a five-day period during the heat wave, according to The Associated Press. The province usually has about 165 deaths within that time interval.
Meanwhile, in Washington there were at least 676 emergency department visits over a three-day period during the heat wave.
The NWS cautioned that the warm conditions in the Southwest could increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, especially for those who are outside. The heat warning encourages people to drink plenty of fluids and to stick to air-conditioned spaces.
A number of cooling stations will continue to be open in Clark County, Nevada, through July 12, according to a tweet from the city of Las Vegas, which cautioned residents about the dangers of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat is the most deadly weather impact annually in the United States. Extreme heat has contributed to an average of 138 fatalities every year over the past 30 years.
In addition, high heat is notorious for causing a spike in visits to the hospital. According to data compiled by Climate Central, as extreme heat builds, the risk of heat-related illnesses also mounts. The Climate Central data shows a correlation between a rise in hospital visits for different parts of the country as temperatures rise, noting that "People in historically cooler regions may be less acclimatized to heat, and lack the infrastructure to cope with it."
Extreme heat that's been building in places like Northern California could also be record challenging this weekend, with the NWS noting that downtown Sacramento could be within striking distance of its all-time record high of 114.
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