'Extreme' heat to bake Texas, Southwest with highs topping 110 degrees

WEATHER NEWS: ‘Extreme’ heat to bake Texas, Southwest with highs topping 110 degrees

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Temperatures are set to soar in Texas and the Desert Southwest this week, with readings topping 110 degrees and an escalating danger of heat-related illnesses. The National Weather Service is calling the heat “dangerous,” “extreme” and “excessive,” warning vulnerable populations to take steps now to ensure access to cooling resources.

By early next week the heat will abate some in parts of the Southwest, but any relief will come at the cost of increasingly gusty winds, which could bolster the risk of rapid fire spread.

The sizzling temperatures mark the start of the hottest time of year in the Desert Southwest, which usually persists through at least June before the summer monsoon kicks in and sometimes brings cooling clouds and storm chances

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In Texas, some of the most extreme heat is predicted Tuesday, focusing west of Interstate 35, especially southwest of Midland across the Davis Mountains, Marfa Plateau and Big Bend areas. This zone is under an excessive heat warning and a few locations could see highs between 110 and 117 degrees.

Records highs between 100 and 110 degrees are forecast around Midland, Abilene, San Angelo and Waco.

It’s been a scorching start to 2022 in Midland, which has already hit at least 100 on 12 days, twice as many times as of all 2021.

The heat will then expand west Wednesday into the weekend.

The National Weather Service has plastered much of southeast California, southern Nevada and southern Arizona with excessive heat watches. That’s where the hottest weather will occur between Thursday and Sunday.

Death Valley — home to the highest temperature measured on the planet — is forecast to see highs over 120 degrees on Friday and Saturday — near records for the time of year.

Las Vegas could also challenge records Friday and Saturday, with highs around 108 or 109 degrees.

An excessive heat watch covers the Phoenix area Wednesday through Monday. The city is forecast to hit 110 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday before lurching to 112 on Thursday and 113 on Friday. Friday’s high should set a record, beating out the 111 degree reading recorded in 1978. Records in Phoenix date back to 1895.

“Stay indoors and seek air-conditioned buildings,” wrote the National Weather Service in Phoenix. “Drink water, more than usual, and avoid dehydrating alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks.”

They agency also included a list of signs and symptoms of heat stroke in its bulletin, warning “Heat stroke can be DEADLY. Treat as an emergency and call 9 1 1.”

In Yuma, Ariz., along the Colorado river on the California-Arizona border, both weekend days should peak around 113 degrees. Yuma is such a hot place that records will not be in jeopardy. That said, an excessive heat watch is in effect.

Potentially most hazardous are overnight lows, which will be hard-pressed to dip below 80 degrees. Most residences in this part of the country are equipped with air conditioning, but in places where that’s not the case or for the homeless, warm overnight lows can make it tough for the human body to cool down. Older adults and other vulnerable populations can suffer disproportionately due to the added stress on their bodies.

The overarching weather pattern is boosting the odds of record-challenging heat, with a ridge of high pressure cresting overhead by the weekend.

Strong high pressure systems, commonly referred to as “heat domes,” tend to bring a summer’s hottest weather. That’s because they deflect the jet stream to the north, which means any inclement weather, storm systems and cloud banks get shunted over the northern Intermountain West. Instead, sinking air brings sunny skies and dry conditions, which allows the region to heat up quickly.

Across the Southern Plains and Texas, little change in this weather pattern is expected for days. Most of central, south and west Texas will sit near or just above the century mark through at least early next week.

The intensity of the heat is being boosted by human-caused climate change. In Phoenix, the average June temperature in Phoenix has jumped from 83.7 degrees around World War II to 93.9 degrees now — a staggering spike. In Dallas, that same window has featured a jump from 80.8 to 83.4 degrees.

Some of that increase is because of the urban heat island effect, which is tied to development and paving surfaces with heat-absorbing materials, but substantial warming is also linked to increasing atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases from fossil fuel burning.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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