‘Extreme’ heat to cook Texas, Southwest with highs exceeding 110 degrees

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Temperatures are expected to soar in Texas and the desert southwest this week, with readings topping 110 degrees and a growing danger of heat-related illnesses. The National Weather Service calls the heat “dangerous”, “extreme” and “excessive”, warning vulnerable populations to take steps to ensure access to cooling resources.

Early next week, the heat will ease a bit in parts of the southwest, but any relief will come at the cost of increasingly strong winds, which could heighten the risk of the fires spreading rapidly.

The scorching temperatures mark the start of the hottest time of the year in the desert southwest, which typically persists until at least June before the onset of the summer monsoon and occasionally brings clouds of cooling and risk of storms.

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In Texas, some of the most extreme heat is expected Tuesday, concentrating west of Interstate 35, particularly southwest of Midland through the Davis Mountains, Marfa Plateau and areas of Big Bend. This area is under an excessive heat warning and a few places could see highs between 110 and 117 degrees.

Records between 100 and 110 degrees are predicted around Midland, Abilene, San Angelo and Waco.

It’s been a torrid start to 2022 in Midland, which has already reached at least 100 in 12 days, twice as many times as in all of 2021.

The heat will then extend west Wednesday through the weekend.

The National Weather Service blanketed much of southeastern California, southern Nevada and southern Arizona with excessive heat watches. This is where it will be hottest between Thursday and Sunday.

Death Valley – home to the highest measured temperature on the planet – is expected to hit highs of over 120 degrees on Friday and Saturday – near records for the time of year.

Las Vegas could also challenge records on Friday and Saturday, with highs around 108 or 109 degrees.

An excessive heat watch covers the Phoenix area Wednesday through Monday. The city is expected to hit 110 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday before tipping to 112 on Thursday and 113 on Friday. Friday’s high is expected to set a record, beating the 1978 reading of 111 degrees. Records in Phoenix date back to 1895.

“Stay indoors and look for air-conditioned buildings,” wrote the National Weather Service in Phoenix. “Drink more water than usual and avoid dehydrating alcoholic, sugary or caffeinated beverages.”

The agency also included a list of signs and symptoms of heat stroke in its bulletin, warning: “Heat stroke can be DEAD. Treat as an emergency and call 911.”

In Yuma, Arizona, along the Colorado River on the California-Arizona border, both weekend days are expected to peak around 113 degrees. Yuma is such a hot place that recordings won’t be to be in danger. That said, an excessive heat watch is in effect.

The most dangerous are the overnight lows, which will struggle to drop below 80 degrees. Most residences in this part of the country are equipped with air conditioning, but in places where it is not or for homeless people, the hot nighttime lows can make it difficult for the human body to cool down. The elderly and other vulnerable populations may suffer disproportionately due to the added stress on their bodies.

The overall weather pattern increases the chance of record heat, with a ridge of high pressure reaching ceiling over the weekend.

Strong high pressure systems, commonly referred to as “heat domes”, tend to bring the hottest weather in the summer. This is because they deflect the jet stream to the north, meaning any bad weather, storm systems and cloud banks are deflected north of Intermountain West. Instead, descending air brings sunny skies and dry conditions, allowing the region to warm up quickly.

In the Southern Plains and Texas, little change in this weather pattern is expected for days. Most of Central, South and West Texas will be near or just above the century at least early next week.

The intensity of the heat is amplified by human-caused climate change. In Phoenix, the average temperature in June has risen from 83.7 degrees around World War II to 93.9 degrees now – a staggering high. In Dallas, that same window featured a jump from 80.8 to 83.4 degrees.

Some of this increase is due to the urban heat island effect, which is linked to development and paving of surfaces with heat-absorbing materials, but substantial warming is also linked to increased atmospheric concentrations of gas trapping heat from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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