Historic Heat Wave Turns Deadly in Las Vegas

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
July 03, 2013, 11:29:24 AM EDT

The historic and dangerous heat wave that has been shattering records across the West turned deadly in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Las Vegas paramedics found a man dead in a home without air conditioning on Saturday, when temperatures at the city's McCarran International Airport soared to 115 degrees.

The man had medical issues, but the Associated Press reports paramedics thought that the heat worsened his condition.

Saturday's high of 115 degrees repeated Friday's high and marked the first time since late June 1994 that the McCarran Airport registered consecutive highs of 115 degrees or higher. The heat became even more extreme on Sunday, reaching 117 degrees, which tied the all-time record for Las Vegas.

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The National Weather Service Office in Las Vegas, located on the city's southwestern side, experienced its all-time record high of 118 degrees on Saturday.

There is no question that the atmospheric blast furnace is at full throttle across the interior West and will remain that way through at least the next couple of days with more daily, monthly and all-time records set to be broken or challenged.


"While many folks over the interior West are accustomed to and expect hot weather during the summer, this pattern is taking the heat to the extreme," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Actual High
Previous Monday Record High
All-Time High
Phoenix, Ariz. 112 115 122
Las Vegas, Nev. 114 116 117
Reno, Nev. 105 104 108
Elko, Nev. 104 101 107
Salt Lake City, Utah 104 101 107
Needles, Calif. 116 119 125
Palm Springs, Calif. 114 118 122
Sacramento, Calif. 105 108 115
Death Valley, Calif. 127 125 134
Spokane, Wash. 99 102 108
The Dalles, Ore. 101 101 111
Boise, Idaho. 110 105 111

This table shows several locations that will come close to breaching their highest temperature ever recorded for any day of the year.

Death Valley tied its hottest June temperature of 128 degrees on Saturday, followed by breaking the record on Sunday reaching 129.

Cities that will continue to experience record-challenging heat on Tuesday include Fresno, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., Salt Lake City, Utah, Boise, Idaho, and Medford, Ore.


Spokane and Seattle, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore., were added to the above list as the heat is expanding northward.

Those looking to find relief from the heat should head to San Diego, San Francisco and other coastal points where the absence of an offshore flow will keep temperatures more comfortable.

All other residents should continue to follow the safety tips listed below during this historic heat wave.


"People driving through desert areas during the pattern should make sure their vehicle can make the journey and that they carry extra water in case their vehicle breaks down," stated AccuWeather.com Western Weather Expert Ken Clark.

As temperatures soar to record-challenging levels, drying brush and the potential for spotty thunderstorms will push the wildfire threat to new areas and raise the risk in other locations.

The system producing the heat and sunshine will allow widely separated, pop-up thunderstorms with time. Most of the storms will form and die over the mountains during the afternoon and evening hours, but there will be a few exceptions.

A few locations can receive a downpour. However, many of the storms will bring little or no rainfall. This phenomena, commonly called "dry lightning," can spark new wildfires.

While the natural spark for wildfires cannot be avoided, people are urged to be very careful when using outdoor power equipment and open flames. Never park a vehicle that has been running for any length of time over dry grass and brush as the hot exhaust can start a fire. Don't throw burning cigarettes out of your vehicle.

The fire danger across the West has forced officials to issue fire bans in some states, which includes restrictions on fireworks for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. More states or communities may follow suit due to this historic heat wave.


AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.

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