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Highs Of 117 Expected In Las Vegas, In Dangerous Heat Wave

Excessive heat warnings will continue for much of the Desert Southwest through Monday. Here, Maria Wieser of Italy drinks water while sightseeing in Death Valley National Park on Friday.
Chris Carlson

A heat wave is broiling America's Southwest, where temperatures are expected to soar past 110 degrees in coming days. Before noon on Friday, temperatures in many parts of southeastern California, Nevada and Arizona had already topped 100 degrees.

An "excessive heat warning" was issued Friday by the , which blames the dangerously high temperatures on "a massive area of high pressure across the Western United States through Monday."

The agency is urging people to help keep children, the elderly and those with chronic ailments safe during the heat wave, and it reminds anyone who experiences nausea, headaches or dizziness to cool down and drink water.

Citing high temperatures of between 114-117 degrees in Las Vegas, from 118-125 in the Colorado River Valley, and 126-129 in Death Valley, the weather service said that in some areas, nightly lows may not drop below 90 degrees.

It remains to be seen whether the heat will threaten the record set in Death Valley, of 134 degrees, back in 1913.

The thermometer at the Furnace Creek resort in Death Valley National Park hit 120 degrees before noon Friday.
Chris Carlson / AP
The thermometer at the Furnace Creek resort in Death Valley National Park hit 120 degrees before noon Friday.

The perilous heat led the NWS to remind us that in 2005, "17 people died from heat-related causes in the Las Vegas Valley ... when temperatures were observed at or above 112" from July 14 to 17.

In New Mexico, the farmers and residents of Mora County are enduring a severe drought that's worsened by the heat. A local river stands dry, with cracks showing in its bed, reports member station KUNM from Albuquerque.

Last month, Mora became the first county to ban fracking, out of concern that the process would pollute its wells and aquifers, sources of water that it is now counting on, KUNM reports.

And the heat is also taking a toll in the desert areas that some immigrants use to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. That's the story from Arizona, where our colleagues at the Fronteras blog report that more than 100 bodies have already been found in Arizona's deserts in 2013.

U.S. Border Patrol trauma agents have also rescued nearly 200 people, writes Fronteras' Michel Marizco. In most cases, the people called 911 after realizing they were in danger.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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