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Heat Dome Brings Triple-Digit Temperatures to Southwest

Heat Dome Brings Triple-Digit Temperatures to Southwest

Forecasters predict record-breaking temperatures as millions in the Southwest brace for what could be the hottest day of an intense heat wave.

On Thursday, temperatures were forecasted to reach 114°F (45.5°C) in Phoenix, Arizona, 111°F in Las Vegas, Nevada, 111°F in Palm Springs, and 121°F in Death Valley, California. Although summer has yet to officially begin, excessive heat warnings were issued for parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, expected to last until Friday night. The National Weather Service (NWS) anticipates that temperature records will be “tied or broken” with “little to no overnight relief from the heat.”

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This extreme heat is due to a heat dome, where high pressure traps hot air, causing temperatures to soar 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Firefighters are ready to treat heat-stroke victims with ice, and some popular hiking trails in Arizona have closed due to the dangerous temperatures.

In Phoenix, the US’s hottest large city, firefighters used human-sized immersion bags filled with ice to cool heat-stroke victims. Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, had 645 heat-related deaths last year, leading the fire department to equip all vehicles with these bags. On Thursday, police at Dream City Church in Phoenix reported that firefighters treated at least five people for heat exhaustion at an event where former President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. Despite the heat, many attended this swing state event, one of Trump’s first campaign appearances since his recent legal troubles. To help residents cope, Phoenix is opening two overnight cooling stations for the first time.

The NWS advised Grand Canyon hikers to exercise caution at lower elevations, where temperatures can reach 111°F. Excessive heat has also led Arizona officials to close trails at Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. Homeless people are particularly at risk, increasing the demand for temperature-controlled shelters. Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), the state’s largest shelter, can accommodate 600 people during extreme heat, providing essential services like shelter, water, and food. With Phoenix’s homeless and low-income residents being most vulnerable to heat-related deaths, these services are crucial.

Extreme heat is also affecting Texas, with Brownsville recording an unprecedented 100°F on Wednesday. The forecast predicts the extreme temperatures will spread northward to the Pacific Northwest by the weekend.