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Western States' Heat Wave Turns Deadly; No Relief In Sight

It was hot Saturday in Sun City, Ariz., and across the Southwest.
Richard A. Brooks
AFP/Getty Images
It was hot Saturday in Sun City, Ariz., and across the Southwest.

( Most recent update: 4:45 p.m. ET.)

The brutal heat wave that has Southwest states in its grip is being blamed for at least one death.

Saturday in Las Vegas, an elderly man was found dead in his home, which did not have air conditioning, theLas Vegas Sun reports. Paramedics say the heat contributed to his death, a spokesman for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue tells the Sun. For the second consecutive day, the temperature hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the city.

Now forecasters warn that temperatures, which have also topped 110 in other cities, hit 122 in Palm Springs, Calif., and went even higher in Death Valley, won't be coming down in the next few days. What's worse, they might even go a bit higher. As CNN puts it:

"Civic and emergency officials throughout the Southwest say if there was ever a time to worry, this would be it."

According to the National Weather Service:

"Temperatures will continue to approach or exceed records underneath an expansive upper ridge anchored over the Southwest and Great Basin. Excessive heat warnings remain in effect for a large portion of California ... Nevada ... and Arizona ... where daytime highs will yet again dangerously soar well past the century mark and overnight lows will barely drop into the seventies and eighties. As the ridge begins to build northward late Sunday and into Monday ... triple digit temperatures will expand north through the Intermountain West and all the way to the Canadian border."

The shows "excessive heat" alerts in five states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. There are slightly less ominous "heat advisories" posted for Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana.

The Weather Channel adds that "temperatures will continue to soar well into the 110s and even 120s into the new week."

Saturday, we wrote about the Weather Service's webpage where it posts updates on the temperature in Death Valley the highest "reliably recorded air temperature on Earth," 134 degrees Fahrenheit, was registered in Death Valley on July 10, 1913).

The high there Saturday, according to that chart, was 124 degrees.

At 4:10 a.m. local time Sunday (7:10 a.m. ET) the temperature in Death Valley was 105 degrees. That's 5 degrees higher than at the same time Saturday.

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET. It's Painful To Walk On The Asphalt:

From Death Valley, NPR's Kirk Siegler says it's painful to walk on the pavement (he's wearing sandals).

"It feels a bit like somebody is blowing a hair dryer in my face at all times. ... It's hot to the crisp and the sun is absolutely punishing," Kirk tells our Newscast Desk. He's been watching a thermometer that just a few minutes ago was registering 129 degrees.

For the record, the National Weather Service's webpage's latest reading was "only" 119 degrees.

Also (from our original post):

If you need a refresher on tips for how to stay safe when its extremely hot, the Weather Service has them posted here. As we said Saturday, they include:

— Stay inside if you have air conditioning. Go to a library, store or cooling center if you don't.

— Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

— Slow down. This isn't a time to be outside exercising.

Meanwhile, there's more rain expected Sunday in parts of the Northeast. That could mean more flooding for already soggy parts of New York State and Pennsylvania.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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