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Heatwave Grips US as Las Vegas Faces Record-Breaking Temperatures

by Ethan Kim
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heatwave

As scorching temperatures continue to engulf the United States, visitors in Las Vegas were taken aback by the blistering heat that greeted them as they stepped outside for a quick photo. However, most vacationers sought refuge from the oppressive weather in the cool confines of casinos, where light sweaters were necessary due to the chilly air conditioning.

Meanwhile, emergency room doctors in the city witnessed a different reality, treating dehydrated construction workers, unconscious elderly residents, and others suffering from the intense heatwave. Las Vegas faced the imminent threat of breaking its all-time high temperature record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius) over the weekend.

Las Vegas perfectly embodies the surreal contrast between indoor and outdoor life, with its neon-lit streets adorned with resorts, casinos, swimming pools, indoor nightclubs, and shopping centers. Across California and the Southwest, tens of millions of people scrambled to find ways to stay cool and safe amidst the dangers of extreme heat.

The National Weather Service, on Friday, emphasized the severity of the building heatwave, which had been anticipated for a week. Nearly one-third of Americans were under extreme heat advisories, watches, or warnings. The scorching heatwave was expected to worsen in Nevada, Arizona, and California, with desert temperatures predicted to soar above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius) during the day and remain above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) overnight.

Despite the extreme weather conditions, tourists like Sergio Cajamarca and his family, accompanied by their dog Max, lined up to take pictures in front of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. By midday, the temperature had already exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius).

Cajamarca, a 46-year-old electrician from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, expressed his love for the city while acknowledging the heat as a drawback. His 20-year-old daughter, Kathy Zhagui, shared her recipe for relief, which included staying hydrated, enjoying ice cream, and seeking shelter indoors.

Meteorologists in Las Vegas cautioned the public not to underestimate the danger posed by the heatwave. They stressed that this was not the typical desert heat, but an extraordinary and prolonged period of extreme daytime temperatures and warm nights. The National Weather Service in Las Vegas tweeted, urging everyone, including desert residents, to take the heat seriously.

In Phoenix, the scorching temperatures reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.6 degrees Celsius) on Friday, marking the city’s 15th consecutive day with temperatures at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius). This streak put Phoenix on track to break the previous record of 18 consecutive days set in 1974.

David Hondula, the chief heat officer in Phoenix, expressed concern about the upcoming weekend, describing it as one of the most serious and hottest conditions the city has ever experienced. He emphasized the need for maximum vigilance and community awareness.

The relentless heat was expected to persist well into the following week as a high-pressure dome moved westward from Texas. Hospitals, such as Dignity Health Siena Hospital in suburban Henderson, reported an increase in heat-related illnesses, including dehydration and heat exhaustion.

To address the escalating heat-related issues, regional health officials in Las Vegas launched a new database to track heat-caused and heat-related deaths in the city and surrounding Clark County from April to October. In the same vein, public facilities, including air-conditioned libraries, police station lobbies, and other establishments across Texas to California, opened their doors to provide relief to the public, at least during certain hours. Additional measures were taken, such as extended operating hours for splash pads in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and free admission to public pools in many cities, including Boise, Idaho.

Although temperatures along the Pacific coast were less severe, they still created uncomfortable conditions, evident in the sweat-soaked picket lines in the Los Angeles area, where actors joined screenwriters in strikes against producers.

In Sacramento, the California State Fair began with organizers canceling horseracing events due to concerns for animal safety.

Employers were reminded of their responsibility to provide outdoor workers with water, shade, and regular breaks to prevent heat-related illnesses. Pet owners were also urged to keep their animals indoors as dogs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke and can succumb to its effects within minutes.

Amidst the hot and dry conditions, wildfires began to emerge across California, signaling the intensification of the wildfire season, as noted by Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, during a media briefing.

Stefan Gligorevic, a software engineer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who was visiting Las Vegas for the first time, remained determined to enjoy his vacation despite the heat. He planned to stay hydrated and take advantage of shaded areas during his walks through the resorts.


Watson reported from San Diego. Contributions to this report were made by AP reporters John Antczak in Los Angeles, Anita Snow in Phoenix, and Susan Montoya in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about heatwave

Q: What are the temperatures like in Las Vegas and across the US due to the heatwave?

A: Las Vegas is experiencing scorching temperatures and is at risk of breaking its all-time high temperature record. The heatwave is affecting millions across California and the Southwest, with desert temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

Q: How are people coping with the extreme heat in Las Vegas?

A: While visitors may briefly venture outside for photos, most seek refuge in air-conditioned casinos. Residents and tourists are advised to stay hydrated, stay indoors, and take precautions against heat-related illnesses.

Q: How long is the heatwave expected to last?

A: The heatwave is forecasted to persist for several days, with high temperatures expected to continue well into the following week.

Q: What measures are being taken to address the extreme heat conditions?

A: Regional health officials have launched a database to track heat-related deaths, and various public facilities are providing relief by opening their doors and extending operating hours. Employers are reminded of their obligations to provide outdoor workers with water, shade, and breaks.

Q: How are wildfires being impacted by the heatwave?

A: The hot and dry conditions have contributed to the intensification of the wildfire season, with wildfires erupting across California. The authorities are closely monitoring the situation.

Q: What impact does global climate change have on heatwaves?

A: Global climate change is believed to “supercharge” heatwaves, making them more severe and prolonged. This underscores the urgency of addressing climate change and its effects on extreme weather events.

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