Heat Scorches U.S. West as Records Fall Across the Region

Source: By Brian K Sullivan, Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, July 12, 2021

Searing heat continues to scorch the western U.S., with Las Vegas tying its highest temperature ever and downtown Sacramento, California, setting a new second-highest mark on Saturday and relief at least a day away.

Las Vegas reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 Celsius) to equal a mark also set in 1942, 2005, 2013 and 2017, and could hit that level again Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Readings reached 113F in Sacramento as heat continues to grip the western U.S. at least for a few more days, said Lara Pagano, a senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

“Sunday it is going to peak, with the heat starting to diminish as we go through Monday into Tuesday,” Pagano said. “By the time we get to Wednesday, temperatures are closer to or slightly above normal.”

Excessive heat warnings and advisories reach from Oregon south to the California-Mexico border and push east into Utah, Idaho and Arizona, affecting at least 22 million people. In addition, the dry, hot air is keeping the fire risk high across much of the region and straining electric grids as people crank up their air conditioners.

Sunday’s highs could reach 108F in Sacramento, 112F in Fresno, California, and 112F in Phoenix.

Death Valley

The worst of the heat has been centered in California’s Death Valley, which reached 129.4F (54 Celsius) Saturday after reaching 130F the day before, the Weather Service said. The 130 mark was also reached in August 2020, is the fourth-warmest ever reached there, and could be touched again on Sunday.

Large fires are burning across 12 western states, including Alaska, according to the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center. In all, 57 major fires are burning across the U.S., including blazes in Florida and Minnesota. Montana has the most with 10.

In Canada, the federal government issued new regulations on Sunday after a recent wildfire displaced hundreds of people in Lytton, southern British Columbia, and adjacent areas. Fire risk remains acute in the province.