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Southwestern States Sizzle As Heat Wave Intensifies

Record-breaking temperatures and prolonged heatwave pose health risks and fuel wildfire concerns.

The Southwestern states have been roasting amid the most intense heat wave of the summer so far this year. “Mother Nature will provide no cooling relief in the near term. The heat is expected to expand its reach into the latter part of July,” said AccuWeather meteorologists.

Tens of millions of Americans remained under heat-related weather alerts at the end of the weekend, which stretched across much of the West and continued eastward into the South Central states. Excessive heat warnings were still in place for much of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, where high temperatures have soared into the triple digits for days.

Phoenix recorded its third consecutive record high temperature on Saturday as the thermometer soared to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, beating out the previous record for the date of 117 set in 1998. Although the city dubbed “The Valley of the Sun” is accustomed to extreme conditions during the summer, temperatures so far this month have been particularly stifling.

The city is on track to break the record of consecutive days with a high temperature at or above 110. The current record was set back in 1984 and spanned 18 days from June 12-29. As of July 15, Phoenix had recorded 16 consecutive days of high temperatures at or above 110. For nearly a week, low temperatures have not dipped below 90.

Temperatures are expected to peak at their highest levels thus far in the heat wave on Sunday afternoon, with locations such as Las Vegas, Fresno, California, and Phoenix flirting with all-time record heat. ACCUWEATHER.

“These temperatures are occurring during the time of year when temperatures are already typically at their highest relative to historical averages,” said Joe Bauer AccuWeather Meteorologist.

Through the first half of July, temperatures were roughly 3–6 degrees above the historical averages across the Southwest. These departures are only expected to climb as the intense heat shows no signs of releasing its grip on the region.

“With a large area of high pressure locked in place overhead, the weather pattern will continue to promote extreme heat across the Southwest,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Andrew Johnson-Levine.

 Even beyond Sunday, temperatures will remain at record-challenging levels, 5-10 degrees above the historical average, into next weekend.

In one of the hottest locations on Earth, lying nearly 300 feet (91.44 m) below sea level, Death Valley, California, could approach 130 late Sunday, several degrees shy of the world’s record high air temperature. High temperatures in the 120s are expected to persist through at least next weekend.

“The extreme heat and blazing sunshine can cause most individuals to become rapidly dehydrated. People are urged to avoid strenuous activity during the daylight hours, to increase their intake of fluids, and seek an air-conditioned environment when possible to avoid the potential of heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“In addition to the daytime highs, temperatures will remain well above the historical average at night. In cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, record high minimum temperature records could be threatened,” Johnson-Levine said.

The long-duration heat wave, accompanied by mostly dry weather, can act to elevate wildfire concerns in the coming days and weeks as vegetation continues to dry out.

“Precipitation from this past winter led to an increase in the growth of sagebrush and grasses in the region. This vegetation then becomes fuel for wildfires to develop during much of the balance of the summer and into the fall,” Sosnowski said.

As the high-pressure system over the Southwest broadens its reach this week, AccuWeather meteorologists say temperatures will rise to record-challenging heights farther to the east as well. ACCUWEATHER.

El Paso, Texas, where the mercury has been in the triple digits since June 16, temperatures are expected to hit record-breaking levels through the middle of the week, perhaps flirting with 110 on multiple occasions.

Dallas could hit the middle 100s Monday through Thursday, following a brief return to more seasonable temperatures at the end of the weekend. San Antonio Texas, will continue its streak of record-breaking heat through at least Tuesday, according to the AccuWeather forecast.

“The annual event that sparks thunderstorms over the Southwest, known as the North American Monsoon, will continue to be suppressed over the next week or two at least. This change in wind direction that allows moisture to creep northward from the tropical Pacific, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico has been delayed,” said Sosnowski.

AccuWeather forecasters cannot rule out a cooling thunderstorm or two to develop over the high terrain of the Four Corners region in the coming week, but many of the storms may bring little or no rain and could kick up dust or trigger lightning-induced wildfires. ACCUWEATHER.

Early indications point toward the hot, dry weather only growing more intense across the West toward the last week of July, perhaps expanding northward as well into the Northwestern states as the jet stream bulges into western Canada.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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