It’s not just super-remote Death Valley feeling the heat, the city of sin - Las Vegas - will swelter in 46C (115F) temperatures today - which is likely too hot even for its daytime pool-partiers.
The National Weather Service issued a warning amid record-breaking heatwaves, saying: “Dangerous heat will affect much of the western US for much of this week with temperatures up to 120 degrees. These temperatures make any outdoor activities dangerous, so stay cool and hydrated.”
We would typically expect this kind of hot weather in July or August, so why’s this hitting so early this year? Well, it’s driven by a pattern in the jet stream which is exacerbated by drought conditions on the ground.
The jet stream is a narrow band of high altitude, with high-powered winds that travel up to eight miles into the atmosphere. Essentially, the wind separates cool northern air from warm southern air.
As a result, when the jet stream curves upward over an area such as the Western US, it makes warmer air come up with it, causing a dome of hot dry air to be pushed over the West.
The weather effects are made worse by drought conditions in many of the states affected. Because the soil isn’t getting as much moisture, it becomes parched. When the ground is dry, the heat of the sun evaporates all the moisture from the ground, which heats the surface.
This graph helps explain why heat extremes are becoming so much more common/severe in a warming world.… https://t.co/CqIWhH5hNJ
Naturally, the demand for air conditioning will be high. In Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas urged residents to conserve energy electricity use related to power outages.
Heatwaves are one of the clearest indicators that a warming climate impacts the weather. And although heatwaves are expected (as well as cold spells), hotter temperatures make regular heat waves extreme.
Check out some of the high temperatures recorded across the US below:
Salt Lake City, Utah — 107°F/ 41.6°C
Las Vegas, Nevada— 115 °F/ 46.1°C
Death Valley —126°F/ 52.2°C
Needles, California—118 °F/ 47.7°C
Barstow, California —115°F/ 46.1°C
Desert Rock, Arizona—109°F/42.7°C
Lake Havasu City, Arizona —119°F/48.3°C
People enduring the record heat shared a bunch of fun memes and reaction on Twitter:
How California feels right now
@warcraft #warcraft #HEATWAVE https://t.co/Gam4l27DOA
The key health advice amid all of this hot weather? Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, limit time outside, monitor high-risk loved ones, watch for signs of illness - and don’t leave dogs, children, or people - for that matter - inside hot cars.