NATIONAL NEWS

Weeklong heat wave loosens grip slightly on US Southwest but forecasters still urge caution

Jun 8, 2024, 11:59 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The weeklong heat wave that baked most of the U.S. Southwest in temperatures well into triple digits is on its last legs, but forecasters are still urging people to be cautious as there will be little relief from the warm weather until monsoon thunderstorms begin to kick in, likely in July.

A slight easing of temperatures is expected through the weekend, with Phoenix and Las Vegas falling short of besting any new records. Still, an excessive heat warning continues through Saturday in Las Vegas, where it’s never been hotter this time of year. It was a record-high 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Las Vegas on Friday, 113 F (45 C) in Phoenix and 100 F (37.8 C) in Albuquerque.

Even in Florida, forecasters with the National Weather Service on Saturday warned that heat indices would be well into the triple digits for Miami and other areas. That measurement reflects what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.

Record high temperatures also were expected through the weekend for central Florida, where many communities just wrapped up their warmest May on record as temperatures for the month were between 3 and 4 degrees above normal.

Forecasters also issued heat advisories in far West Texas and along the U.S.-Mexico border, but they noted that the highs would be a bit cooler than the past couple days.

The heat arrived weeks earlier than usual even in places at higher elevations — areas typically a dozen degrees cooler. That includes Reno, Nevada, where the normal high of 81 F (27 C) for this time of year soared to a record 98 F (37 C) on Thursday and hit 98 F again Friday — but was short of the daily record 100 F (37.7 C).

John Adair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, said it’s not unusual for parts of the Southwest to heat up pretty quickly, especially in the second half of June.

“So this is a hot time of year before we start to get some moisture and cloud cover from the monsoon thunderstorms that come around,” he said. “Even for next weekend, we’re forecast to hover around 105, 106, which is just slightly above normal at that point.”

In the Southwest, monsoon thunderstorms typically ramp up during the first week in July.

There have been no reports of any heat-related deaths or serious injuries in the region, but a 68-year-old man was hospitalized in stable condition in Phoenix on Friday after he was overcome with heat exhaustion while hiking on a mountain trail and rescued by fire crews.

In Nevada, the Clark County Fire Department reported Friday that it logged 20 calls classified as heat exposure over a three-day period, with 12 of those resulting in trips to local hospitals. Eight of the calls came on Friday.

Cooling centers, including community centers and libraries, remained open Saturday for people looking for relief from the heat, the fire department said.

With heat records already being broken in May and June, this year could end up being more deadly than last when it comes to heat-related deaths. The death certificates of more than 2,300 people who died in the United States last summer mention the effects of excessive heat, the highest number in 45 years of records, according to an Associated Press analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

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Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed.

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Weeklong heat wave loosens grip slightly on US Southwest but forecasters still urge caution