Scorching temperatures are in store for the southwestern US over the next several days, with cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Palm Springs expected to stay above 110 degrees in California.
New Mexico and parts of Texas will also have three digits.
The heat in the desert is part of the normal routine of summer, but weather forecasters say that doesn’t mean people should feel comfortable. In the US, extreme heat causes more deaths than other weather-related disasters, including hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.
“Although the weather conditions are going to be good, you will have to significantly limit your outdoor activities,” said Gabriel Lojero of the National Weather Service in Phoenix.
The temperature forecast from Wednesday to Monday is the highest so far this year. Scientists say that climate change and deepening drought are likely to bring more frequent and intense heat waves in the future.
The effects of rising temperatures are most felt in vulnerable populations, including people without homes and workers outside. The homeless are nearly 200 times more likely to die from heat-related causes, said David Hondula, a climate scientist who leads the City of Phoenix’s Heat Response and Mitigation.
At least 130 of the 339 people who died of heat-related causes were homeless. Last year in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and has the most population of any county in Arizona.
Phoenix is already considered the largest city in the United States. A heat wave last summer raised the temperature to 118 °C (48 °C).
Lozzero said most people in central and southern Arizona, southern Nevada and southeast California will be at risk of heat-related illness if they don’t take the proper precautions. These include wearing light-colored clothing, staying hydrated, and looking for shade when you need to go outside.
Temperatures are expected to tie or break records even at night when it is cooler, before dropping overall early next week.
Temperatures below 115 degrees (46 degrees Celsius) are forecast for Phoenix and Yuma on Saturday, when the heat will peak across the region. Blythe and El Centro in California will be at or above that temperature. The National Weather Service said Las Vegas will top out at 111 degrees (44 C) during the heat wave.
Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, will also see three-digit temperatures—a reminder that weather changes significantly from the canyon’s rim to its interior depths.
Some places in New Mexico are also expected to see temperatures that could break records over the weekend. Forecasters said there could be flash floods in areas scorched by forest fires due to thunderstorms over the next few days.
While the temperatures in Texas turned cold this week, the heat has been on the rise since the weekend.
Sharp numbers come in the southwest before the annual rainy season, known simply as the monsoon, which begins in mid-June and lasts until September. Meteorologists say the event has an equal chance of being above, below, and normal in Arizona this year.