Record-Breaking Heat Wave Sweeps Across Southern United States and Beyond

US Heat Wave Breaks Records, Spreads to Europe and Asia

The southern United States is currently experiencing an extreme and persisting heat wave, which shows no signs of letting up. With nearly 100 million Americans under heat alerts from South Florida to northern Nevada, the heat wave continues to set records across the region. On Sunday, California’s Central Valley and the Desert Southwest experienced the highest temperatures, with Death Valley reaching a scorching 128 degrees Fahrenheit. Record-breaking temperatures were also observed in Reno, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, and Salt Lake City. Although temperatures in the Southwest will not be as high in the coming days, it will still be dangerously hot.

In addition to the heat wave affecting the United States, high-impact heat events are occurring across Europe and Asia. China recorded its highest temperature ever observed, reaching 126 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Italian island of Sardinia could approach 117 degrees on Tuesday. Rome is also predicted to reach temperatures that would surpass its all-time record by 3 degrees. Meanwhile, the Persian Gulf International Airport in Iran reported a heat index of 152 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday.

Scientists have long established that the frequency and intensity of high-end heat events are increasing due to human-caused climate change. The ongoing heat wave in the southern United States is happening during a period of record-breaking temperatures globally. Every day since July 3, the Earth’s average temperature has surpassed the previous record.

The heat dome, a persistent area of hot and sinking air responsible for the extreme temperatures, is expected to consolidate and intensify further while shifting eastward. This means that while temperatures may slightly decline in California for a few days, they will spike once again in Texas and across the south-central United States. As the heat wave progresses eastward and strengthens, more temperature records are likely to be challenged.

Several cities in Texas, such as Albuquerque, Tucson, Austin, Corpus Christi, and San Angelo, are expected to tie or break temperature records in the coming days. Similarly, Phoenix is forecasted to surpass its record-long streak of 18 consecutive days at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is not only uncomfortable but also exacerbating ongoing wildfires across the Southwest.

Across the West and Desert Southwest, numerous weather records were broken on Sunday. Death Valley set a calendar-day record at 128 degrees Fahrenheit, while Badwater recorded the Earth’s highest temperature ever observed after midnight. Reno matched its highest temperature ever observed, and Kingman, Arizona, set an all-time record. Other cities, such as Flagstaff, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, narrowly missed all-time highs but set calendar-day records.

As the heat persists, the humidity is contributing to heat indexes in the 105-to-115-degree range across Texas, the southern Plains, and the Southeast. Additionally, overnight temperatures are staying warm due to the humidity, leading to record warm lows in places like Key West and College Station.

The heat wave in the southern United States is a stark reminder of the impacts of climate change. With the increased frequency and intensity of these extreme heat events, it is essential to prioritize climate action and work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the devastating effects on our planet and communities.