September 30, 2023

One-third of Americans are under extreme heat advisories

Val Martin and Ashford Joseph rehydrate after climbing stairs in Eleanor Tinsley Park as temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston, Texas, U.S. July 12, 2023.

Texas energy use has broken records as many in the state scramble to stay cool.

A “dangerous” US heat wave is predicted to intensify this weekend, with warnings in the Southwest.

“Do not underestimate the impact of heat,” the National Weather Service (NWS) warned on Saturday.

Nearly one-third of Americans — about 113 million people — are under heat advisories: from Florida to California and up to Washington state.

Phoenix, Arizona, is likely to hit 110F (43C) for the 16th consecutive day on Saturday—nearly a record.

California’s Death Valley – one of the hottest places on Earth – is expected to reach 128F (53C).

The NWS tweeted that “A blistering and extremely dangerous heat wave will hit the West this weekend, along with spots in the southern US.

“Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths most years,” it warned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 people in the U.S. die from heat-related causes each year.

The scorching temperatures are expected to continue into next week.

They are the result of an upper-level high-pressure ridge, which typically brings warmer temperatures, the NWS said, adding that the heat wave was “one of the strongest” systems of its kind to hit the region.

Las Vegas, Nevada, may match its all-time high of 117F (47C) in the coming days.

Weather officials there warned locals, who may think they can handle the temperatures, that this is “not your typical desert heat.”

“‘It’s the desert, of course it’s hot’- This is a DANGEROUS mentality!” the NWS tweeted in Las Vegas.

“This heat wave is NOT a typical desert heat due to its long duration, extreme daytime temperatures and warm nights. Everyone should take this heat seriously, including those who live in the desert.”

Infographic showing expected temperatures during the heat wave in the southern states of the US

Infographic showing expected temperatures during the heat wave in the southern states of the US

The NWS also warned that “strong to severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and flooding are possible in several locations,” including America’s northeastern New England region.

Parts of the southwestern US have already experienced intensely hot temperatures over the past week. In El Paso, Texas, temperatures have been in the triple-digit Fahrenheit for 27 consecutive days.

Air conditioning use in the state has surpassed its previous record for power consumption as people try to stay cool, while parks, museums and zoos have closed or shortened their hours.

Hospitals also saw heat-related admissions.

“We’re getting a lot of heat-related illnesses right now, a lot of dehydration, heat exhaustion,” said Dr. Ashkan Morim, who works in the emergency room at Dignity Health Siena Hospital, outside of Las Vegas.

Nighttime temperatures were expected to remain “abnormally warm” in some areas, providing little relief from the heat at night.

The heat wave in the US mirrors similar scorching conditions in Europe, forcing Greece to close one of its top tourist attractions, the Acropolis, on Friday and Saturday.

Last week, the global average temperature was 63F (17.23C), the highest ever recorded.

Scientists say the temperatures are caused by climate change and the naturally occurring weather pattern known as El Niño, which occurs every three to seven years and causes temperatures to rise.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1°C since the start of the industrial age and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments around the world cut emissions significantly.

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