Extreme heat intensifies across south-west US
A heat dome over the US southwest has converted into outrageous heat warnings from one coast to another, which continue to affect more than 110 million people.
Temperature records could be broken in as many as 38 cities.
In Las Vegas, the extraordinary heatwave is threatening on Sunday to break or tie the city’s record high of 117F (47.2C).
Hundreds of firefighters have also been battling brush fires in blistering heat and low humidity on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
Temperatures in Death Valley in California hit 128F (53.9C) on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). It is the site of the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth: 134F (56.7C).
The typically crowded streets of Las Vegas are significantly emptier than ordinary, and security guards are guarding the fountains of upscale casinos and hotels to prevent people from jumping in.
Reporting from the city, BBC producer Samantha Granville said Sunday’s heat felt like “when you are baking a cake and open the oven to see how it’s rising, and you feel all the heat rush to your face – except it’s your entire body and you can’t pull back from it.
“The heat is suffocating. It literally takes your breath away when you step outside.”
El Paso, in Texas, has seen temperatures of 100.4F (38C) and above for more than a month now, with no respite in sight.
The city of Phoenix, which has been experiencing temperatures above 109.4F (43C) for 17 days in a row, was granted some modest reprieve on Sunday by a thick cloud cover, which was expected to keep the temperature around 115F (46.1C).
But the heat is set to continue for the foreseeable future, and authorities are warning that vulnerable people – including children, pregnant women, and the elderly – are at serious risk of heat-related illness.
Mobile clinics report treating homeless people suffering from third-degree burns. Public buildings in some parts of California and Nevada have been turned into “cooling centers” where people can take refuge from the heat.
The Weather Channel says that the dome of high pressure will expand across the nation’s south by the middle of next week – meaning other southern US will see temperatures rise.
The temperatures in America’s southwest are the result of an upper-level ridge of high pressure, which typically brings with it warmer temperatures, the US National Weather Service said, adding that the heatwave was “one of the strongest” systems of its kind to hit the region.
Meanwhile, other parts of the US are bracing themselves for severe thunderstorms and flash floods – and north-eastern states could experience another bout of poor air quality as a result of the continuing wildfires in Canada.
“As if the rain coming out of the sky isn’t enough, if you start looking up tomorrow, you’re going to see a similar situation in what we had a couple of weeks ago because of the air quality degradation [from the wildfires],” New York governor Kathy Hochul said at a press conference. “And as I said before, this is possibly our new normal.”