The southwest US is finally facing falling temperatures after a record heatwave sparked wildfires in Arizona and sent Death Valley soaring to 129F.
Dangerously high temperatures that have ravaged Western states including California, Nevada and Arizona this week are expected to continue into Sunday, before starting to decline going into the new week.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Phoenix forecast that cooler temperatures will begin Monday with lower desert highs near 110 degrees.
However, the relief will be short-lived as temperatures are expected to climb once again from the middle of the week, spelling another blow to Americans who have baked in the extreme heat.
The southwest has been hammered by one of the most extreme heatwaves in US history, caused by high-pressure ridge, or dome, over the region.
Experts described the situation as ‘apocalyptic’ with Californians and Texans urged to limit their use of power amid fears of blackouts, Arizona residents forced to evacuate a 70 square kilometer wildfire and five states – California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and parts of Colorado – placed under excessive heat warnings.
LAS VEGAS: People stop along the strip to get relief from a water mister as temperatures soar
PHOENIX: People distribute water to the homeless as the region grapples with a heatwave
PHOENIX: A pedestrian holds a bottle of cold water at a Salvation Army hydration station during a heatwave
Excessive heat warnings remained in effect until late Sunday in the region, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and nearby California and Utah desert areas.
Temperatures will still be around 10 to 15 degrees above average Sunday with the lower deserts reaching around 118 degrees.
Phoenix is predicted to reach 116 degrees and Las Vegas 113 degrees Sunday, the NWS said.
These temperatures are shy of records of 118 degrees in Phoenix and 117 degrees in Las Vegas.
Higher areas such as Flagstaff and Santa Fe will hit the mid-90s.
Another day of record heat brings with it more issues such as the risk of wildfires and power outages in hard-hit areas.
But forecasters reassured weary Americans Sunday that the worst is almost over with a cooling trend on the horizon.
‘The extreme temperatures will continue for one more day with cooling conditions Monday into Tuesday bringing temperatures back down to around seasonal normals through mid week,’ it said.
Excessive heat warnings remained in effect until late Sunday in the region, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and nearby California and Utah desert areas
But forecasters reassured weary Americans Sunday that the worst is almost over with a cooling trend on the horizon with cooling conditions Monday into Tuesday bringing temperatures back down to around seasonal normals through mid week
Though still hot, temperatures are expected to fall to highs of 108 to 111 degrees Monday.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected late Tuesday into Wednesday with much of California even up to 10 to 15 degrees below average.
However temperatures will be pushed back above 110 degrees by Friday.
By next weekend, the hard-it areas will be faced with another warmup – though it is not anticipated to reach the same scorching temperatures of the last week.
The NWS said the short-term relief will come thanks to a strengthening upper level trough west of California which will help to displace the ridge and the worst of the heat dome.
‘The latter half of the week will be a battle between the ridge and the stalled out large scale upper level trough to our northwest,’ forecasters said.
This will lead to a gradual increase once again with temperatures rising going into next weekend.
Several parts of the southwest have baked in record-smashing temperatures this week.
LAS VEGAS: People cool off at the Circa hotel-casino’s Stadium Swim pool this week
LAS VEGAS: The southwest US is finally facing falling temperatures after a record heatwave
CALIFORNIA: People cool off at the beach in the state which was under a state of emergency due to the heat
Phoenix recorded its fifth day of 115 degree heat in a row Saturday – the first time since records began more than a century ago in 1895.
It also notched 91 degrees to eclipse its so-called high-minimum mark of 86 degrees set back in 1959.
Las Vegas hit a high of 111 degrees and tied a record Saturday for the highest low daily temperature, at 88 degrees.
Temperatures in Death Valley hit 129F – the highest this year. Death Valley has long held the record for the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth, with a 1913 recording of 134F – although the accuracy of the reading is debated.
On Thursday, the all-time high temperature was tied in Palm Springs, California at 123 degrees, breaking the previous June record of 122 degrees.
Salt Lake City tied its all-time record high of 107 degrees.
The old record was notably set in July — when temperatures are usually at their highest for the year in that region.
Denver hit 100 degrees on Thursday, marking only the sixth time in historical record keeping that it has reached 100 degrees on three or more consecutive days.
Weather forecasters kept warnings in effect for excessive heat in Arizona, Nevada and desert areas Sunday.
CALIFORNIA: Dry land is visible, at a section that is normally under water, on the banks of Lake Oroville, which is the second largest reservoir in California
PHOENIX: The soaring temperatures have sparked wildfires in Arizona causing people to evacuate
LOS ANGELES: A man drinks a bottle of water in the heat during a Juneteenth commemoration
In Arizona, fire officials blamed extreme heat for the spread of a wildfire that started late Wednesday and grew by Saturday to nearly 27 square miles (70 square kilometers) near Strawberry and Pine, mountain towns east of Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
Evacuations were ordered Friday while aircraft and about 100 firefighters fought flames in rugged pinyon juniper, chaparral, brush and cactus.
Officials reported zero containment and scheduled a virtual community meeting late Saturday on Facebook to update residents on efforts to suppress the fire.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation Friday as the state’s power grids were pushed to the limit by residents cranking up the air con.
Officials warned that a hydropower plant at the drought-stricken Lake Oroville that powers up to 800,000 homes could be shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967 due to the strain on the grid.
Lake Oroville, the state’s second largest reservoir, dropped to around 700 feet above sea level this week.
If it continues to fall to 640 feet, there won’t enough water to operating the plant, California Energy Commission spokesperson Lindsay Buckley told CNN.
People were urged to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoid using washers, dishwashers and other major appliances.
Texans faced similar advice as the energy-independent state sought to avoid a repeat of February’s power outage disaster where hundreds of people died due to a loss of power in bitter winter storms.