Intense Heatwave Grips American West as Millions Under Extreme Heat Alerts

Record-Breaking Heatwave Hits American West

A scorching heatwave is sweeping across the American west, intensifying the already blistering temperatures in the region. More than a third of Americans are now under extreme heat alerts as the heatwave shows no signs of relenting. The state of California is particularly vulnerable, with a powerful heatdome settling over central and southern parts of the state. The National Weather Service has issued a warning, urging residents to prepare for the hottest weather of the year, as desert areas could see highs surpassing 120F (48.8C).

The National Weather Service has also forecasted extreme heat in other areas of the region. Death Valley national park is expected to match or even surpass its previous heat record of 130F (54.4C). Las Vegas could experience three consecutive days with a high of 115F, a rare occurrence that has only happened once before. Meanwhile, Phoenix is bracing for its hottest weekend of the year after enduring two weeks of scorching temperatures above 110F.

The heatwave comes at a time when the US is grappling with extreme weather events across the country. From tornadoes in Chicago to historic flooding in Vermont, the nation is facing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. President Joe Biden has pledged to support communities in preparing for and mitigating the effects of these extreme events.

The heat is expected to persist into the following week as a high pressure dome moves westward from Texas. Experts have warned that the extended heatwave poses a severe danger to vulnerable populations, particularly older people and those without homes. In response, public facilities such as libraries, senior centers, and police department lobbies have been repurposed as cooling centers, especially in desert areas.

David Hondula, Phoenix’s chief heat officer, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that this weekend will bring some of the most serious and hot conditions ever seen. Las Vegas is already witnessing a spike in hospitalizations, with emergency room doctors treating dehydrated construction workers and elderly residents suffering from heat-related illnesses.

The city of Palm Springs in California is grappling with limited resources to support its homeless population during the heatwave. With just 20 indoor beds available at the only overnight shelter, many homeless individuals are left to face the extreme heat alone. Various cities in northern California, such as Galt and Sacramento, have extended evening hours at cooling centers to help residents cope with the oppressive heat.

As the heatwave persists, the risk of wildfires escalates due to the hot and dry conditions. Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, explained that the climate emergency is “supercharging” heatwaves. California has implemented a $400 million extreme heat action plan to safeguard workers, support vulnerable communities, and establish more cooling centers throughout the state.

While California’s rivers may offer some respite, UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain urged caution, warning that the water could be dangerously cold and flowing faster than usual due to the melting snowpack from the Sierra Nevada mountains.

As the American west braces for another scorching weekend, communities and individuals are urged to exercise extreme vigilance and take all necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy in the face of this unprecedented heatwave.