Heatwave in the western United States: 31 million people prepare for record temperatures

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More than 31 million people across the western and southwestern United States are bracing for a brutal heat wave that could bring triple-digit temperatures this weekend, with authorities Attention that records could be broken in many parts of California and Nevada. Officials said Las Vegas could even exceed its record high temperature of 117F.

The “heat risk” is classified as “very high” in much of this area, which means that all residents there face “a very high risk of heat-related illness due to both the long lasting heat and lack of relief at night, ”the National Meteorological Service (NWS) said.

While the risk of heat is slightly lower in high altitude locations – classified as “high” or “moderate” – most of the population remains at risk for heat-related illnesses, especially people “who are susceptible.” to heat and / or those that do not have cooling or hydration, ”according to the NWS.

In California, interior regions are expected to experience the heat wave. The state’s largest urban centers, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, lie along the coast, so they will benefit from cooling oceans and will not endure extreme peaks.

“Temperatures are going to be about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year,” said Diana Crofts-Pelayo, spokesperson for the California Emergency Services Office, earlier this week. “It will be a record heat wave. “

This heat wave follows records set in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada last week. The heat-related death toll in Oregon and Washington has risen to nearly 200 people in total; up to 500 people are believed to have died in British Columbia.

Washington state officials on Friday announced emergency rules that give farm workers and others working outdoors greater protection against hot weather. Under the new rules, when the temperature is 100F (38C) or above, employers must provide shade or other means for employees to cool off and ensure a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes. every two hours.

“The heat felt in our state this year has reached catastrophic levels,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “The physical risk to individuals is significant, especially those whose occupations take them out all day. “

Authorities urge residents to stay indoors, seek air conditioning and drink water; some counties are opening cooling centers. The California Independent System Operator, which manages most of that state’s electricity grid, asked residents to save electricity on Friday evening to reduce stress on the electrical system, citing “extreme heat expected in a much of California until early next week ”.

The western and southwestern United States were also affected by a heat wave in June, with at least 48 million people on heat advisories. Dangerous heat is also associated with extreme drought conditions, increasing the already heightened risk of forest fires.

California’s wildfire season is already more extreme than in 2020. Officials say the length of the fire season has increased by 75 days in the Sierras, in line with an increase in the extent of wildfires in the Sierras. statewide.

According to Weather.com, there have been 4,599 wildfires that have started in California since January 1, igniting 115 square miles. During the same period of 2020, 3,847 fires burned 48.6 square miles.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that June 2021 was “the hottest” on record for the United States. Le Noaa says that “heat waves from coast to coast helped push” June over.

The average June temperature across the contiguous United States reached 72.6F, 4.2F above average. Noaa says Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah experienced their hottest June on record.

The Associated Press contributed reporting


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