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Unrelenting Heat Wave Grips Southwest, Prompting Concerns from Forecasters

by Gabriel Martinez
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heat wave

The Southwest region of the United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented heat wave that has been persisting for several weeks. The city of Phoenix, known for its tolerance of high temperatures due to its desert location, has been particularly affected, with the mercury hitting a scorching 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) for 13 consecutive days.

According to the National Weather Service, over 111 million people in the United States are under extreme heat advisories, watches, and warnings. Vast areas of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are witnessing temperatures surpassing 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

The National Weather Service emphasized the widespread nature of this heat wave, stating that approximately 27 million individuals in the Lower 48 states will encounter air temperatures or heat indexes exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in the coming week. They urge people to take necessary precautions and minimize exposure to the oppressive heat as it shows no signs of relenting.

Meteorologists in Phoenix warn that the long-duration heat wave poses significant health risks and could continue into the following week as a high-pressure dome shifts from Texas to central California. Predictions indicate that temperatures in Phoenix, the hottest major city in America, may soar to 108-115 degrees Fahrenheit (42-46 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, and as high as 111-119 degrees Fahrenheit (44-48 degrees Celsius) over the weekend. The city is also grappling with record-breaking overnight lows, hindering recovery from the scorching daytime heat.

Phoenix, being an urban heat island characterized by dense construction and heat-absorbing materials, experiences slower temperature drops after sunset. Sean Benedict, lead meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, emphasizes the importance of nighttime relief for people seeking respite from the heat.

David Hondula, the chief heat officer for the city of Phoenix, underscores the danger posed by prolonged exposure to the heat wave. He notes the exceptional duration of the current heat wave and advises caution.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix has endured a staggering 13 consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). The longest recorded stretch of such extreme temperatures in the city’s history was 18 days in 1974.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, temperatures are expected to reach 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, with inland areas of Southern California, including San Bernardino, forecasted to reach 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) on Saturday.

Las Vegas is projected to face scorching temperatures between 116 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit (46 and more than 47 degrees Celsius) this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

El Paso, Texas, has endured a record-breaking 27 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures (over 38 degrees Celsius), surpassing the previous record of 23 days set in 1994, when temperatures soared to an all-time high of 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 degrees Celsius).

Zak Aronson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, describes the heat wave as unprecedented, noting that such conditions have never been recorded in the area’s history since records began in 1887.

Temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a consistent rise in average and daily summer high temperatures across Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Las Vegas since 1983, reflecting the impact of climate change.

The extreme weather conditions in Phoenix have prompted the city to take action and become a model for other municipalities grappling with heat waves exacerbated by drought and climate change. Initiatives such as increased tree planting, the implementation of cool, reflective road surfaces, and expanded shelters for the homeless have been undertaken to mitigate the effects of the scorching heat. Homeless individuals account for half of the heat-related deaths in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, reported 12 confirmed heat-associated deaths, half of which involved homeless individuals, since April this year. An additional 55 deaths are currently under investigation. Last year, the county witnessed 425 confirmed heat-associated deaths, with the majority occurring in July, and 80% happening outdoors.

The delay in the arrival of this year’s monsoon rains has contributed to the intensity of the current heat wave. The monsoon season typically commences on June 15 and brings powerful storms and precipitation.

Despite the extreme heat, Maricopa County experienced the largest population growth of any U.S. county last year, with nearly 57,000 new residents, primarily from people relocating from other states.


Note: The reference to the “Big Big News” writers and their contributions has been omitted as it is irrelevant to the rewritten text.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about heat wave

How long has the heat wave been affecting the Southwest?

The heat wave has been persisting for several weeks in the Southwest region of the United States.

What are the temperatures like in Phoenix during this heat wave?

Temperatures in Phoenix have reached as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) for 13 consecutive days. Forecasts predict temperatures between 108 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (42 to 46 degrees Celsius) on Thursday and potentially as high as 111 to 119 degrees Fahrenheit (44 to 48 degrees Celsius) over the weekend.

Is the heat wave limited to Phoenix?

No, the heat wave has affected a large portion of the Southwest. Areas in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are also experiencing temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

How are people being advised to protect themselves from the extreme heat?

Forecasters and authorities are urging people to take precautions and limit their exposure to the oppressive hot weather. This includes staying hydrated, seeking shade, and minimizing outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.

How is Phoenix addressing the extreme weather and its impact on public health?

Phoenix has implemented measures to combat the heat, such as planting shade trees, designing heat-reflecting road surfaces, and expanding shelters for the homeless population. These initiatives aim to mitigate the adverse effects of the heat wave and reduce heat-related deaths.

Is climate change contributing to the intensity of the heat wave?

Yes, rising temperatures and the prolonged duration of heat waves are attributed to climate change. The text mentions that average summer temperatures and daily high temperatures have increased in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Las Vegas over the past few decades.

How has the delay in monsoon rains affected the heat wave?

The delay in the arrival of this year’s monsoon rains has intensified the heat wave. The monsoon season typically brings precipitation and helps alleviate extreme heat, but the delayed onset has prolonged the oppressive conditions.

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