01:43 - Source: CNN
Hot temperature threat continues across the central US
CNN  — 

More than 40 million people are under heat alerts across the Plains and Central California today and Tuesday as temperatures surge 10 to 15 degrees above normal.

“Dangerous heat will continue to impact much of the central and parts of southwestern US today,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Temperatures will warm up into the 90s and 100s today, breaking dozens of high temperature records across the central US. Both heat advisories and excessive heat warnings cover Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and the Dakotas.

Heat indices – what it feels like to the human body with the combination of humidity and heat – could reach 111 degrees in portions of Texas, Oklahoma and South Dakota, where excessive heat warnings are issued.

Excessive heat warnings have also been issued for the San Joaquin Valley, where high temperatures could reach 108 degrees.

Triple digits across the Southern Plains, California, Upper Midwest

Nearly 20% of the US population, or about 60 million people, will likely see a temperature at or above 100 degrees this week.

Among the hardest-hit areas are in the Southern Plains, including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where intense heat will stick around until at least Tuesday.

July has been trending above average for Texas, and residents are cranking up their air conditioners to stay cool. The power grid has been strained toward peak usage for several weeks as electricity bills continue to skyrocket.

Much of Texas will continue to see record highs every day this week, which will continue to stress the power grid and could lead to rolling blackouts in the coming days.

Pedestrians walk along a street during a heatwave in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas is forecast to reach 110 degrees this afternoon, which would tie a daily record set back in 1980.

Overnight lows could also reach record levels in Dallas tonight, where temperatures could remain in the 80s. Without the opportunity to cool off, residents are at a greater risk of heat-related illnesses.

Temperatures are reaching the triple-digit mark as far as South Dakota, which is 15 degrees above normal.

Rapid City is expected to break a record of 104 degrees set back in 1934 today. The National Weather Service in Rapid City is telling residents to limit outdoor activities to the early morning or late evening hours.

Most of Nebraska will also reach daily heat records, including Scottsbluff and North Platte. Scottsbluff has the potential to break its 2006 record by two degrees, with a forecast high of 106. Temperatures will continue to stay around 100 degrees through Saturday.

On top of the chance for record temperatures, western Nebraska has issued a red flag warning for fire weather concerns as a result of thunderstorm chances in the evening hours.

“With the heat, low relative humidity, and gusty southerly winds, critical fire weather conditions are likely this afternoon into the early evening hours,” the North Platte weather service office wrote. “There is also a threat for high based, dry thunderstorms which may produce lightning and gusty erratic winds in the vicinity of thunderstorms.”

The weather service office in North Platte also advised people to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room indoors, and to check up on relatives and neighbors.

The Plains and Upper Midwest will see temperatures 10-15 degrees above normal through Friday, with increasing chances of thunderstorms and damaging winds over the next couple of days.

Portions of the drought-stricken West have already seen record highs this summer, including Salt Lake City, where the all-time record of 107 degrees was tied Sunday.

The San Joaquin Valley in central California is bracing for temperatures as high as 108 degrees, 10 degrees above normal.

Areas around Bakersfield are forecast to reach 105 degrees today and remain well into the triple-digit range through the end of the week.

“Heat related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are likely if precautions are not taken,” the weather service office in Hanford cautioned.

Hot and dry conditions worsen drought

Excessive heat warnings are threatening ongoing drought conditions in the Southwest.

Nearly 60% of California is dealing with extreme drought (level 3 of 4), with portions of the San Joaquin Valley, such as Fresno and Bakersfield, enduring excessive drought (level 4 of 4) conditions.

Ongoing drought is also creating a fire threat as heat lingers over Texas, and the weather service in Ft. Worth is reminding residents of wildfire risk.

“The combination of breezy conditions, intense heat, plentiful sun, and dry vegetation will create a heightened threat for wildfires on Wednesday,” the weather service office in Ft. Worth noted.

Burn bans are currently in place for most of Texas. The weather service in Ft. Worth advised the public to avoid open flames near dry grasses and vegetation, and to assure all coals and embers are fully extinguished.

Over 20% of Texas is in exceptional drought (level 4 of 4) as of July 14, more than five percentage points worse than last week.

CNN’s Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.