2. Sizzling heat ratchets up in the West
A punishing and long-duration heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states, Andrew writes.
Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures at or above 100 degrees.
Why it matters: The extreme heat is unusually intense for June, and aggravating already dire drought conditions that threaten to lead to another devastating wildfire season.
The details: Overnight minimum temperatures in Las Vegas barely slipped below 90°F early Wednesday, and daytime highs are anticipated to approach the city’s all-time record of 117°F through Saturday.
- The heat wave is the result of a sprawling area of high pressure also known as a heat dome. It's deepening the already extreme drought across the West.
By the numbers: In Death Valley, Calif., which holds the distinction of having recorded the hottest temperature on Earth, the June high-temperature record of 129°F is likely to be threatened Wednesday and Thursday.
Numerous monthly and all-time records fell Tuesday, including:
- 107°F in Salt Lake City, tying the city’s all-time record for any time of the year and beating its previous record for June, which had stood at 106°F.
- Hundreds of more records are likely by the end of this weekend.
What we're watching: The heat, combined with the drought conditions, means less hydroelectric power available to handle surges in power demand across the Southwest.
The big picture: The heat wave and drought are mutually reinforcing.
One of the clearest conclusions of climate science is that heat waves are becoming more intense and longer-lasting.