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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Extreme heat sets records from California to Texas

CASTAIC, CA - JULY 08: Zachary Pruett, 10, catches wind with this umbrella as he was putting it away after he and his Mom Amanda Pruett, from Santa Clarita finish their morning at Castaic Lake Lagoon. The pair came to "Cool off before the sun becomes dangerous." Said Amanda. Temperatures began to soar Thursday morning as a new heatwave is predicted to bring dangerously hot weather to California's inland regions this week, with relentlessly high temperatures that continue to torment the west coast. Castaic Lake Lagoon is now open daily 10am to 6pm. Castaic Lake Lagoon on Thursday, July 8, 2021 in Castaic, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times).  (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)
By Jason Samenow Washington Post

Scores of high-temperature records were established Friday from Texas to California’s Central Valley as a relentless heat wave continued to build. The heat is poised to expand into the Midwest and Southeast over the coming days.

On Friday, triple-digit highs set records in major population centers across the Southwest, including Houston; San Antonio; Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix described the heat as “extreme and deadly.”

Many of these areas were forecast to be equally hot on Saturday, as the heat begins to expand eastward. Nearly 60 million Americans are under heat advisories or excessive heat warnings.

A heat advisory covers almost the entirety of the states of Texas and Oklahoma and even extends into northwest Louisiana and parts of western Arkansas. Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings also cover parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.

By Sunday, the core of the heat is forecast to shift from California and the Southwest toward the Southern Plains. By Monday, it will ooze into the Central Plains and Midwest before reaching the Ohio Valley and Southeast on Tuesday and Wednesday.

What has been a dry heat in the Southwest will evolve into a more sultry nature east of the Rockies, as moist air is drawn north from the Gulf of Mexico. This will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Early next week, cities from St. Louis to Charlotte, North Carolina, will endure punishing heat with highs from 95 to 100 that will feel like 100 to 110 when factoring in oppressive humidity.

Death Valley – home to the highest temperatures observed worldwide – soared to a simmering 123 degrees Friday. That mark set a June 10 record and was the fourth earliest the mercury has climbed that high on record in the United States, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who tracks world weather extremes.

Other record highs set Friday include :

Phoenix: 113

Las Vegas: 109

Paso Robles, Calif.: 106

Stockton, Calif.: 105

Bishop, Calif.: 103

Austin, Texas: 103

Victoria, Texas: 102

San Antonio: 101

Albuquerque, New Mexico: 100

Grand Junction, Colo.: 100 (tie with 1981)

Houston: 98

Reno, Nev.: 96 (tie with 1918)

Flagstaff, Ariz.: 87 (tie with 1910)

In addition to all of these record highs, numerous locations in the region have set records for warm overnight lows. In Phoenix, it was still 100 degrees at midnight Saturday.

“With heat waves, the overnight temperatures are the most dangerous, as your body relies on cooler temperatures while its sleeping to recover,” the National Weather Service office in Las Vegas wrote in a forecast discussion. “Without this cooling, your body is less equipped to handle the scorching daytime heat, leading to increased incidences of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

The worst of the heat on Saturday was concentrated from Texas to the Desert Southwest.

“The heat the past few days has already proven to be a major societal impact, and possibly even deadly, and it is not done yet,” the Weather Service office in Phoenix wrote.

Phoenix hit 114, a record for the date; Las Vegas reached 110, also a record.

Death Valley hit 122 Saturday after reaching 123 Friday.

Abnormally hot weather has punished many parts of Texas since the second half of May and Saturday was one of its hottest days yet. Forecast highs include:

Abilene: 107

Lubbock: 105

San Antonio and Austin: 104

Dallas: 103

Houston: 100

While it was more of a dry heat in interior parts of Texas, humidity increased nearer the Gulf Coast, making the heat even more dangerous.

“Heat safety will be critical this weekend- remaining hydrated, applying sunscreen, checking in on elderly or ill family and friends, and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day can all combat preventable heat-related illnesses,” wrote the Weather Service office in Houston.

It will also remain hot in California’s Central Valley, but several degrees cooler than Friday. Sacramento hit 104 on Friday; Saturday’s high was 99. By Sunday, it’s expected to be a much more tolerable 85.

While the heat gradually eases over California and the Southwest on Sunday and beyond, it will persist in Texas and the Southern Plains and expand eastward:

Sunday’s hottest weather will focus from Texas to Kansas with widespread triple-digit highs. Phoenix could top 110 degrees one more day, while eastern New Mexico and eastern Colorado will also swelter. Highs well into the 90s will expand across the Midwest, including St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and the Southeast.

Monday’s hottest weather will focus in the Plains and Midwest. Highs over 100 will expand from Texas to Kansas, while highs from at least 95 to 100 sprawl over much of the Midwest and Southeast. St. Louis could hit 100 with upper 90s in Kansas City, Springfield, Ill., Charlotte, and Columbia, S.C. Factoring in the humidity, it will feel 5 to 10 degrees hotter.

Tuesday’s hottest weather will focus from the Midwest to the Ohio Valley and Southeast with widespread mid-to-upper 90s – including Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Roanoke and Raleigh. Again, oppressive humidity levels will make it feel up to 10 degrees hotter.

Wednesday’s hottest weather will focus from the Midwest to the Ohio Valley, even expanding into the Great Lakes. Highs in the mid-to-upper 90s could reach Detroit, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Cleveland.

While some relief from the heat will arrive in parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley later in the week, the responsible zone of high pressure or heat dome will return to the Southern and Central United States into the weekend. In other words, there is no end in sight to anomalously high temperatures occupying considerable parts of the country.

Human-caused climate change is supercharging heat waves like this one, making them more intense and long-lived.