The record-breaking heat that has scorched the southwestern United States during the past 10 days will finally break down this week.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, high temperatures first reached 110 degrees F on June 17 and have eclipsed this mark every day through June 25. If the high temperature reaches 110 F on Monday, June 26, Las Vegas will tie their all-time record of most consecutive 110-degree days at 10.
All-time record high temperatures in many locations were either tied or shattered at the peak of the heat wave on June 20.
Needles, California, saw its all-time highest temperature ever recorded when the mercury soared to 125 F. The high temperature of 117 F in Las Vegas tied the all-time record last reached on June 30, 2013.
Temperatures peaked at 127 F in Death Valley, California, on June 24, breaking the previous record of 125 F set in 2006. In fact, record-high temperatures were either tied or broken on five out of seven days in Death Valley spanning June 18 to June 24.
The extreme heat has not only been confined to the daylight hours. Temperatures in Phoenix and Las Vegas, as well as most desert locations throughout the Southwest, have only dipped into the 80s and 90s at night during this stretch.
During the duration of the heat wave, temperatures generally averaged 10 to as much as 20 degrees above mid- to late-June averages.
Although temperatures will still run 5-10 degrees above normal on Monday, the downturn in temperatures will signal the start of a trend that will last into midweek.
“The persistent area of high pressure that led to the scorching heat across the Southwest has finally weakened and is shifting out of the area, allowing temperatures to slowly fall back to near-normal levels for late June,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Brown.
Brown pointed out that air quality concerns can gradually improve this week, and outdoor activities which may have been dangerous at the peak of the heat wave can resume more comfortably.
Temperatures by Wednesday should return back to near average across the entirety of the Desert Southwest. It is quite possible, however, that some locations still see temperatures a few degrees on the positive side of normal heading into the upcoming July 4 holiday weekend.
Although no extreme heat waves lie in the immediate future across the Southwest, that does not mean that the dry conditions and wildfire risk will subside.
“Very little moisture will stream over the area, and gusty winds developing in the wake of the departing high pressure system will couple with the dry conditions to raise the threat for wildfires,” Brown added.
Major fires are already burning in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fires may only get larger and burn more acreage over the course of the upcoming week on account of the gusty winds and parched vegetation.
Residents living in fire-prone areas should have a plan of action prepared in case of evacuation orders.
Firefighters can expect no aid from Mother Nature when battling the blazes as no precipitation is in sight. Hikers, bikers and others engaging in outdoor activities should remain cognizant of the situation and take extra care to fully extinguish matches, cigarettes and campfires.