50-year-old records fall as extreme heat bakes western US
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
August 07, 2019, 10:02:38 AM EDT
Dangerous heat gripped the western United States on Monday and Tuesday, toppling several longstanding high temperature records that were well into the triple digits. The heat in the West put residents on alert for a high fire danger since the scorching temperatures created the perfect environment for any spark to ignite and quickly spread into a wildfire.
Daily record highs were set on Monday at a number of locations over the interior West. Those records were shattered in places such as Palm Springs, California, as well as Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.
Palm Springs hit an all-time high of 121 F on Monday, breaking the previous record of 120 F for that day. Phoenix rose to 115 which shattered the old record of 114 on Monday.
The main cause of the higher-than-average temperatures at the start of this week has been due to a northward bulge in the jet stream.
"A large ridge of high pressure centered over the Southwest is what led to the record highs. That ridge will shift eastward in the coming days, so temperatures will come down closer to average over the second half of the week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson said.
"Monday’s high of 115 was just 2 degrees off the all-time August record in Phoenix," Thompson said.
"While Phoenix typically reaches 115 F at some point every year, it is a little late in the season for such a high temperature," Thompson said.
In the Northwest, a temperature of 101 on Tuesday in Baker City, Oregon, surpassed the previous record of 100 from 2001.
Temperatures will continue to average 5 to 15 F above normal until the middle of the week, when areas will experience a gradual cooldown.
"The hottest time of year in Phoenix runs from late June through July, as increased humidity, clouds and thunderstorms from the monsoon typically cut into the heat in August," Thompson said.
Temperatures are set to take a plunge by this weekend in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where temperatures were as high as 115 degrees on Monday and Tuesday.
The sweltering heat follows two of the hottest months on record; July 2019 ranked as the hottest month in recorded history and June 2019 was the hottest June in 140 years of recordkeeping.
July brought a deadly heat wave to the central and eastern U.S. with widespread temperatures in the upper 90s F and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures above 100 F.
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