US heatwave: There are high heat advisories for one-third of Americans
Heat advisories were issued late Friday for at least 113 million Americans, from Florida to Texas to California, all the way up to the northwestern state of Washington.
As individuals try to stay cool, air conditioner use in Texas has surpassed the state’s previous record for power use.
Temperatures of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) are expected to reach almost 27 million people in the following days.
The heat is caused by an upper level ridge of high pressure, which normally produces warmer temperatures, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
According to the agency, it is “one of the strongest” systems of its kind ever seen in the region.
“The subtropical ridge responsible for this likely historic heatwave across the region is not showing signs of letting up anytime soon,” the NWS stated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 700 individuals die each year in the United States from heat-related causes.
Saturday will also be quite hot, with afternoon highs in some locations reaching 115F (46C). The oppressive heat is anticipated to last till next week.
Phoenix is on track to shatter its longest hot spell record, with temperatures anticipated to reach or exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) during the next five days.
The all-time record is 18 days, and the city has already experienced 15 days of temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the next days, Las Vegas may match its all-time high temperature of 117F (47C), while Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places on Earth, may surpass its official all-time high temperature of 130F (54C).
The NWS in Las Vegas reminded residents who think they can withstand the heat that this is “not your typical desert heat.”
“‘It’s the desert, of course it’s hot,’ they tweeted. “This is a DANGEROUS mindset!” Due to its length, severe daytime temperatures, and mild nights, this heatwave is NOT normal desert heat. Everyone, particularly those who live in the desert, must take the heat seriously.”
Parts of the southwest United States have already experienced extremely high temperatures in the last week. Temperatures in El Paso, Texas, have been in the triple digits for 27 days in a row.
Because of the high heat, parks, museums, zoos, and businesses have either announced closures or limited hours.
The Bison Café in Quitaque, Texas, announced fewer hours because the hot weather was making the kitchen “very uncomfortable” for the employees.
Heat-related admissions were also seen in hospitals.
“We’re getting a lot of heat-related illness now, a lot of dehydration, heat exhaustion,” said Dr. Ashkan Morim, an emergency room physician at Dignity Health Siena Hospital outside of Las Vegas.
Overnight temperatures were anticipated to stay “abnormally warm” in certain regions, providing no reprieve from the heat at night.
Because of the heat, demand for electricity in Texas has broken record levels for two days in a row.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ECROT), which handles 90% of Texas’ power load, reported a preliminary consumption of 81,406 megawatts on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 81,351 megawatts set on Wednesday.
ERCOT said it anticipates electricity usage on Friday to exceed those figures, but that it has the resources to satisfy the demand.
The heatwave in the United States replicates comparable scorching conditions in Europe, forcing Greece to close one of its key tourist destinations, the Acropolis, on Friday.
The global average temperature last week was 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius), the highest ever recorded.
Climate change, according to scientists, is driving the rising temperatures, as is the naturally occurring weather pattern known as El Nio, which occurs every three to seven years and causes temperatures to climb.
The world has already warmed by around 1.1 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial age, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments around the world drastically reduce emissions.