Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Record Heat To Turn Hot Desert Southwest Into Something Worse Than An Oven

Heat alerts are up for large sections of the southern
United States, (dark red in Southwest, orange in the Plains)  
It seems like it's shaping up to be one of those summers with pretty intense heat waves for the United States.

We here in New England had some record highs in the low 90s back in late May. The Pacific Northwest had record heat earlier this month. Last week, the central and northern Plains roasted amid 100 degree heat.

Now it's the Desert Southwest's turn.

Oh, I know, I know, it's always hot there in June. But even by their torrid standards, the upcoming heat wave could be historic, in the words of the National Weather Service office in Phoenix, Arizona.

All time record highs could be challenged in many cities in the region. Readings Sunday and Monday could come close to the hottest temperatures on record in cities like Palm Springs, California, where the all time high is 123 degrees, Phoenix (122 degrees), Tucson, (117 degrees) and Las Vegas, (117 degrees.)

This kind of heat is very dangerous, especially since overnight lows in some areas won't drop below 90 degrees. If you're homeless, or must do hard physical work outside, or just don't have access to air conditioning, which is the case for some people in the desert, believe it or not, this could be deadly.

The extreme heat is likely to last into the early part of next week at least in the Southwest. The longer a heat wave goes on, the more dangerous it becomes.

Up in the mountains in the southwestern United States, the extreme heat and even more extreme dryness is seriously increasing the chances of destructive wildfires.

The heat is extending into the central and southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley, with a widespread area under a heat advisory for today, tomorrow and probably Saturday. Highs there will be in the 95 to 100 degree range, cooler than the Desert Southwest.

However the humidity in the southern Plains is very high, and heat indexes will be in the 100 to 110 degree range. Again, very dangerous.

The entire northern tier of the United States will probably have a few warm to hot days over the next week or two, but frequent cold fronts will limit the heat, so things won't be so bad up there.

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