The most extreme heat wave in recent years will throttle back slightly across the southwestern United States but will still remain at dangerous levels into the weekend.
Hot air started cranking up to full force on Monday and Tuesday, with record highs shattered, flights canceled and energy consumption pushed to high demand.
Temperatures at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix soared to 119 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, a level which has not been achieved since June 29, 2013. Las Vegas soared to 117 F which tied their all-time record high for any date.
Beyond Wednesday, temperatures will remain at life-threatening and record-challenging levels, despite conditions turning slightly less extreme.
“Late this week and into the weekend, temperatures will come down a little bit from their extreme levels,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. “The high pressure area responsible for the buildup of heat will weaken and change its orientation.”
A high pressure area is a weather feature associated with mainly dry weather, and during the spring and summer months, it can lead to intense heat waves. As these features move or weaken, the core of extreme temperatures shifts.
Despite the slight dip, temperatures are projected to stay 10 to 15 degrees above normal even at their lowest point at night.
Highs will hover in the 100s F over California’s Central Valley and the 110s in southeastern California, southern Nevada and central and southern Arizona through Saturday.
Some desert locations could still top 120 F, according to Clark.
Flight cancellations may lessen given that temperatures will be trending away from critical levels. However, weight restrictions could still be implemented.
Residents and visitors will need to continue to use extreme caution when outdoors to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Use caution when coming in contact with door handles and car interiors that could be hot enough to burn skin.
Never leave pets or children in a closed and locked vehicle, and avoid walking dogs beyond the middle of the day as paved surfaces will become hot enough to cause paw burns. The best time to walk pets will be in the early morning hours.
The Southwest summer monsoon is not expected to arrive early and suppress the heat.
“There is no sign of the monsoon kicking in yet, and it is a little early for that on average,” Clark said. “As a result, thunderstorms will be very spotty at bes,t and humidity levels will remain very low.”
On average, the increase in clouds and thunderstorms associated with the Southwest monsoon does not occur until late June or early July.