Death Valley hits 109 as scorching temperatures sweep across southwestern US
By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist
April 25, 2019, 11:40:21 PM EDT
After a seasonably mild first three weeks of April, residents across California and much of the southwestern United States are enduring the first significant heat wave of the year.
A ridge of high pressure will continue to strengthen across the Southwest late this week, pushing temperatures into the 90s and even 100s Fahrenheit in spots.
“During Wednesday afternoon, widespread highs in the 90s F scorched California's Central Valley and the deserts of Southern California, Nevada and Arizona,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
The high temperature of 96 F in Las Vegas on Thursday tied the city's daily record set back in 1946.
In Fresno, California, on Thursday, temperatures climbed above 95 for the first time since Sept. 28, 2018, topping out at 96.
High temperatures through Saturday are forecast to remain in the lower to middle 90s F in Fresno and surrounding areas. Records highs will be challenged.
It has also been since last September that Fresno has had four or more 90-degree-Fahrenheit days in a row.
If the mercury reaches the century mark in Phoenix on Friday, it will be the first time since Sept. 29, 2018, that the temperature has climbed that high. The city fell just one degree shy of triple digits on Thursday.
Death Valley, California, surged above the century mark Tuesday, with a recorded high of 102 F. While not a record, it was still above the normal of 93 for this time of year. Temperatures continued to climb in the following days, reaching 106 on Wednesday and 109 on Thursday.
“Increased cooling costs will continue across the Southwest as the summerlike heat wave maintains its grip on the region,” said Pydynowski.
In order to keep cool, people will need to keep their air conditioning units cranking and drink plenty of water if spending prolonged time outdoors.
Be sure to take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned building if partaking in strenuous, outdoor activities this week in order to avoid heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Drinking plenty of water and drinks containing high electrolyte counts, while at the same time avoiding alcoholic beverages, will also help minimize these risks.
“In addition, spring sports teams should move practices to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are lower,” Pydynowski said.
Anybody eager to cool off in streams, rivers and lakes should remember that water temperatures this time of year are still too low for swimming.
“Jumping into cold water can lead to a potentially fatal condition known as cold water shock,” Pydynowski warned.
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With the prolonged stretch of heat and light winds, air quality will also deteriorate to levels that could make it dangerous for sensitive groups, the elderly and children to be outdoors.
Poor air quality is particularly dangerous for those with respiratory or cardiovascular health conditions, such as asthma or heart disease.
While temperatures in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco are forecast to be 5-10 degrees above normal through Friday, dangerous heat is not in the cards for these coastal communities as highs remain generally in the 70s F.
Fortunately, the heat will back down later this weekend and into early next week.
“A storm that may bring showers to a part of the Southwest is expected to bring the heat wave to an end in the final days of April,” Pydynowski said.
Download the free AccuWeather app to see how high temperatures will climb in your community this week. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
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