Excessive heat warnings have been issued for parts of California, Nevada and Arizona
This heat wave is expected to last through the week
It’s so hot in the West that the scorching heat is breaking records, causing massive power outages and prompting flight cancellations.
On Tuesday, Phoenix hit a daily record reaching 119 degrees Fahrenheit, which ranked as the fourth hottest day on record for the Arizona city. Death Valley, California, lived up to its name as it set a daily record at a high of 127 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Las Vegas was also scorching and tied an all-time record high at 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday.
Excessive heat warnings have been issued for inland California, southern Nevada and parts of southwest Arizona until Friday. More than 29 million residents in California are under a heat warning or advisory.
Here’s how the sweltering heat wave is affecting the West:
1. Some planes can’t fly
The heat wave was already affecting travel in Phoenix, American Airlines canceled 43 flights Tuesday to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport due to extreme heat, the airline said.
There could be more cancellations later Tuesday, an airline spokesman said. Seven flights were canceled due to weather on Monday, when the temperature reached 118 degrees, rounding out the total to 50 weather-related cancellations in two days.
Some smaller regional jets cannot take off in temperatures hotter than 117 degrees, it said in a statement.
“Our smaller regional operations – those that use our CRJ aircraft types – will be most affected by the heat,” the airline’s communication specialist Kent Powell told CNN. “We really aren’t expecting any change to the operation with our mainline aircraft.”
Because hotter air is thinner, planes also need more speed to take off and, thus, require more runway. Sky Harbor’s runways are long enough to accommodate most planes in hot weather, American Airlines said.
2. Heat records are being shattered
– In Phoenix, the 118 degrees on Monday tied the record set exactly a year ago.
– On Sunday, several Northern California cities – including Sacramento (106 degrees), San Jose (103 degrees) and San Francisco (88 degrees) – saw record hot temperatures.
Sacramento, California, saw record high temperatures of 106 degrees on Sunday, heat last seen almost 75 years ago, when it reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
– On Monday, Stockton, California, saw a record high of 109 degrees and Lancaster in southern part of the state had 110 degrees.
3. Wildfires are burning
Firefighters across California are battling several fires, including one near Big Bear spreading to 950 acres. They dealt with a grass fire in Sacramento that broke out during Monday’s evening commute.
Cal Fire warned of high fire danger with hot and dry conditions.
4. Power is being knocked out
Power outages have been reported over the last few days in California’s Central Valley, the Bay Area and southern parts of the state.
As temperatures increase, more people turn on air conditioners, which use a lot of electricity and can strain the power system.
Heat: The deadliest type of weather
Heat kills more people in the United States than any other type of weather.
Given the high temperature and humidity values forecast for this heat wave, it is important to watch for heat index values to get a better idea of the danger that awaits outside.