In the west and southwest parts of the country, prolonged heat waves are starting to threaten long-standing temperature records. These record-breaking heatwaves could mean danger for millions of Americans.
This past Monday, about 43 million Americans across the West and Southwest. Temperatures were rising to anywhere from 10 to 30 degrees above average temperatures, raising expert concerns.
Many American cities are now expected to reach record high daily temperatures in the triple digits, including Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona, Las Vegas in Nevada, and Salt Lake City in Utah. Las Vegas and Phoenix will be above 110 degrees this entire week, while Death Valley could soar high up to 127 degrees by Thursday or Friday.
Not even the mountain populations will be able to get away from this record-breaking and potentially dangerous heatwave, as Billings, Montana is set to reach over 100 degrees by the end of this week. The same goes for Grand Junction, Colorado, which sits 4,500 feet above sea level.
The heat will intensify throughout this coming week. By Friday, over 100 record temperature highs could come into fruition, including monthly records for the month of June, and daily records.
For Arizona, West Texas, and southern New Mexico, mid-June is typically the hottest time of the year from a climatological standpoint. The fact that these record-breaking temperatures are taking part in June makes these records even more astonishing.
Of course, with these heatwaves comes an intensified drought and potential wildfire conditions. Lake Mead, which is currently at a record low water level, is continuing to drop. Low humidity and gusty winds will likely fan the flames on large wildfires that are already taking place across Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Utah. As the week continues, the risk for fires will only grow.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning and many fire weather watches for over 3 million Americans. By later in the week, these dire alerts could expand to a greater number of people, especially as the heat continues to build.
97% of the western region is in somewhat of a categorical drought while 55% of the city is in an exceptional or extreme drought of some kind. Meteorologists believe that the wildfire season that is on the horizon will be quite severe once again this year.
Cal Fire recently released a statement outlining the 26% increase in wildfire activity throughout California. Compared to 2020, there will be a 58% increase in acres burned. 2020 was the worst wildfire season that the state ever had with a record of 4.4 million acres burned.
With worsening wildfire seasons and higher temperatures than ever before, there is no doubt in the scientific community that this is due to climate change. Not only are heat waves becoming more intense, but they are also lasting longer than ever before. The increase in acres burned every year throughout the west year over year is proof.
For Californians, crews are still battling the 400-acre brush fire, known as the Flats Fire, throughout Riverside County, while evacuations take place. Firefighters across the state remain on high alert.