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Another Dangerous Heat Wave Hits California And The Western United States
Climate Change

Another Dangerous Heat Wave Hits California And The Western United States


Another heat wave is expected to break temperature records, strain the power grid, and endanger the health of millions of people in California and other parts of the western United States.

Temperatures were already in the triple digits across much of the region on Friday, and weather officials warned that it would get even hotter over the weekend, rivaling the heat waves that sweltered the West and Pacific Northwest just a few weeks ago, killing nearly 200 people.

“Numerous daily high temperature records could be broken, especially in California and Nevada; highs could approach 115-120 degrees for the lower elevations of Arizona and eastern California this weekend!” warned the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in its Friday forecast.

On Sunday, Death Valley in California could reach 130 degrees, dangerously close to the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth: 134 degrees in that same valley in 1913. Meanwhile, Las Vegas could break its all-time heat record of 117 degrees this weekend.

Nearly the entire state of California is under an Excessive Heat Warning, the NWS's most severe temperature category, which means there is a "very high risk" of dangerous heat impacts for everyone in that area, "with little to no relief overnight." Large swaths of Nevada and Utah, as well as parts of Arizona, Idaho, and Oregon, are also under a heat warning.

Over 31 million people are currently under an Excessive Heat Warning or Heat Advisory, and temperatures in the triple digits could threaten Las Vegas' all-time high temperature record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit. pic.twitter.com/vP4NXEeKGh — NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) July 9, 2021

The California Independent System Operator, the state's power grid manager, is urging residents to reduce their energy consumption on Friday by setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoiding the use of major appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers, and turning off as many lights as possible between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

When temperatures soar this high, experts advise people to take extra precautions, such as wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; liberally applying sunscreen and wearing wide-brimmed hats when outside; drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration; and seeking medical attention if they show signs of heatstroke, a deadly response to heat thaw.

The heat comes as a pair of wildfires known as the Beckwourth Complex burn across nearly 25,000 acres in the Plumas National Forest, with fire officials predicting that the heat, combined with low humidity on Friday and Saturday, will fuel the fires.

California is also suffering from a crippling drought, which has been exacerbated by the high temperatures; as of Friday, 85% of the state was in “extreme drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, while 33% was in “exceptional drought,” which is even worse.

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