“An atmospheric blast furnace will be at full throttle heading into the weekend over the interior West with heat reaching dangerous levels, challenging records and elevating the wildfire threat,” warns Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “In some cities, record highs for any date throughout the year could be equaled or breached.”
Chris Dolce of the Weather Channel agrees: “Temperatures will soar well into the 110s and even 120s in the days ahead. One location could even approach 130 degrees!”
Indeed, the prediction is for temperatures to range as high as 130 degrees in California’s Death Valley – which would be the highest there since 1913. Bullhead City, Ariz.; Blythe, Calif.; and Palm Springs, Calif., are all forecast to approach or reach the low 120s. Phoenix is expected to max out in the middle to upper 110s, and Las Vegas could top out at 117 degrees. When it gets that hot, nighttime temperatures remain in the 90s.
Even parts of the typically cooler Pacific Northwest could be baking over the next several days, according to the Weather Channel: Portland, Ore., and Seattle in the 90s, and Boise, Idaho, in the low 100s and perhaps as high as 108 by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is forecasting “above normal potential for significant fire activity in the West Coast states, the Southwest, and portions of Idaho and Montana.”
Causing the heat wave, according to the National Weather Service, is a "massive and unusually strong high-pressure system" over the region, resulting in “dangerously hot temperatures.”
The weather service has issued excessive heat warnings and watches for most of Arizona, Nevada, and California and parts of Utah, in effect through Monday.
"An excessive heat warning is issued when temperatures are forecast to reach dangerous levels that will stress the body if precautions are not taken," the weather service states.
In the face of such heat, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges these cautions:
• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to sun.
• Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, if air conditioning is not available.
• Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities.
• Eat regular, light, well-balanced meals and limit any intake of alcoholic beverages.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
• Protect the face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
• Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
• Do not leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
• Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.