Dangerous heat wave shatters records across US West and beyond; worst is yet to come

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A slow-moving heat wave of potentially historic proportions tightened its grip from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona on Friday, shattering records across the West and sending many residents seeking cooler havens to escape the cold. dangerously high temperatures,

The southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States are also experiencing intense heat, and extreme heat and humidity are expected to persist through Saturday and beyond.

One of the hottest places on Earth, California's Death Valley smashed the previous record by 5 degrees – the mercury climbed to 127 Fahrenheit (52.8 Celsius). The old record of 122 (50 degrees Celsius) was last equaled in 2013.

A high of 118 (47.7 °C) was also recorded in Phoenix, where 115 (46.1 °C) or higher was forecast through Wednesday. In Needles, California, where the National Weather Service has records dating back to 1888, the high of 122 (50 °C) surpassed the old record of 121 (49.4 °C) set in 2007. In Palm Springs, California, it was 124 (51.1).

The National Weather Service said the worst is yet to come in the West, where temperatures are expected to reach triple digits by next week — 15 to 30 degrees (8 to 16 degrees Celsius) above average.

“This heat wave is also worrisome, as above-average temperatures are forecast to continue into next week,” the Phoenix Weather Service said.

“Without adequate cooling or hydration this type of heat is dangerous for everyone,” the service said Friday night in Las Vegas, where the maximum temperature was 113 (45 degrees Celsius). “There is a high likelihood of daily and all-time temperature records being broken at multiple climate sites.”

In Gresham, Oregon, a Portland suburb that also broke the previous record of 98 (36.6 degrees Celsius), Sherry Thompson, 52, waited in her car with her 14-year-old Chihuahua Kiwanis for a cooling center to open in the late morning.

Thompson has lived in her car for three years and can only run the air conditioning for 20 minutes at a time, otherwise the engine overheats. She said she has been hospitalized for heat stroke before.

“I get panic attacks and anxiety, and I get anxious. I don't want to get a heat stroke again, and everything makes me very anxious,” she said.

In Arizona's Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, at least 13 heat-related deaths have been confirmed this year, and more than 160 other suspected heat deaths are still under investigation, according to the county's latest report.

That doesn’t include the death of a 10-year-old boy in Phoenix earlier this week who suffered a “heat-related medical event” while hiking with family at South Mountain Park and Preserve, according to police.

Even more extreme temperatures are forecast in the near future, including 129 (53.8 degrees Celsius) at Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park on Sunday and then nearly 130 (54.44 degrees Celsius) by Wednesday. The hottest temperature ever officially recorded on Earth was 134 degrees (56.67 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley in July 1913, though some experts dispute that measurement and say the true record was 130 degrees recorded in July 2021.

In Bullhead City, Arizona, temperatures reached 111 degrees (44.4 degrees Celsius) by 11 a.m. Friday, on track to reach 118 degrees (47.7 degrees Celsius), and officials opened two cooling centers for the elderly and others.

“While this is a heat wave and we urge everyone to be cautious, we don't typically see large numbers of people at our cooling centers unless there is a power outage,” city spokeswoman Mackenzie Covert said. “Our community is hot every summer. Our residents are somewhat aware of that. They all have working air conditioners.”

Figure skaters were out at the Reno, Nevada, ice rink as early as 6 a.m., before temperatures reached a high of 102 (38.8 degrees Celsius), general manager Kevin Sunde said. Sunde expected about 300 people to be there by the time the rink was scheduled to close at 10:30 p.m., and more parents than usual were there to watch their kids' hockey practice.

“They may not be getting out on the snow themselves, but they're enjoying the cold,” Sunde said. “We're the only sheet of ice within about an hour's drive.”

In Norfolk, Virginia, Kristin Weisenborn set up her table at an outdoor farmers market to sell sourdough bread. The air temperature was slightly below triple digits, but 58% humidity made it feel like 114 (46 degrees Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

“It's so warm here, I just hope there will be a lot of people here to buy my bread,” said Weisenborn, 42, whose Cried's Crumbs bakery is based in Virginia Beach.

“Otherwise we'll just be standing here sweating,” he said, adding that any unsold bread will be donated or frozen.

Despite the scorching heat, people started buying his rotis as soon as the market opened.

“It's hot, but it's July,” Weisenborn said. “I think it's better than snow.”


Boone reported from Boise, Idaho, and Sonner from Reno, Nevada. Associated Press journalists Jonathan Drew from Raleigh, North Carolina; John Antczak from Los Angeles; Rio Yamat from Las Vegas; Denis Lavoie from Richmond, Virginia; and Ben Findlay contributed from Norfolk, Virginia.

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