Heat wave in West enters Day 6 as entire state of Arizona soars to record highs
Historical records continue to be rewritten as extreme heat threatens 40 million Americans in the west on Thursday.
An unusually hot mass of air this week has pushed highs into the 90s and triple digits in much of the West and broken records in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Southern California.
Death Valley, which already held the hottest record on earth at 134 degrees in 1913, set a new daily record of 125 on Wednesday.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Denver had infrequent consecutive 100-degree days, which has only happened 14 times so far. And that week was the earliest of the year she did that. It might even have a rarer three-digit trifecta, with the projected high flirtation around 100 degrees for Thursday. The last time it had three 100 degree days in a row in 2012.
The National Weather Service in Flagstaff found that likely nearly every square inch of Arizona hit a record high on Wednesday.
Las Vegas rose to 116 degrees on Wednesday, breaking a record 114 degrees for the date, just 1 degree below the record high of 117 degrees.
After all, it wasn't just a day or two of record-breaking heat, but a tireless series. When Tucson climbed over 110 degrees on Wednesday for the fifth day in a row, the city endured the blistering heat. The record of consecutive days of 110 degrees or more was set in June 1994. A forecast for three more days with 110 degrees or more will exceed this.
And Tucson isn't the only one who has to endure the heat for several more days. The entire western region will continue to bake at temperatures 10 to 30 degrees above average until the weekend.
The scorching heights also invade east, breaking records in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and more. Records are likely to break again in Las Vegas and Phoenix, where highs are expected to rise above 110 in the coming days. Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado are likely to break their previous records for Thursday of 98 and 100 respectively by several degrees. The heat will also threaten record highs in Kansas City, St. Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Omaha, Nebraska.
And research shows that the fingerprints of climate change can be found all over these increasingly hot temperatures and prolonged heat waves. Compared to 1970, Phoenix now experiences eight more days in 110 degrees or more and Denver 14 more days in 95 degrees or more.
With the brutal heat continuing through the weekend, California's power grid operators have issued a flex warning or a plea for voluntary energy savings to reduce the risk of outages.
Multiple bushfires have broken out in the San Joaquin Hills near San Jose, California and over 100 firefighters have been dispatched to contain them. Extremely low humidity and gusty winds allow flames to spread quickly over the parched vegetation.
About 4 million people were warned with red flags on Thursday.
Climate experts are also concerned that these flammable conditions, occurring so early in the fire season, are a sign that 2021 will be another record-breaking California wildfire season, potentially sparking fires that could burn millions of acres by the end of the year.
But relief is in sight in the short term. The high heat finally breaks off at the beginning of next week as the temperatures in some places are close to or even below average.
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