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Deadly US southwest heatwave will expand to cover much of America

A deadly heatwave simmering in the US southwest since spring is expected to spread to several other states, with multiple heat warnings being issued.

The heatwave, which has led to extreme temperatures such as 45.5C (114F) which was recorded in Arizona’s capital Phoenix on Sunday, is forecast to expand into central and eastern parts of the country for the last week of July.

The US National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and advisories across 13 states including parts of California, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, as well as the southern tip of Florida.

Currently, temperatures are fluctuating between the high 30s and early 40s in the country’s southwestern regions.


At least four tourists in the southwest are believed to have died due to heat since the beginning of June, the National Park Service reported.

Some cities have braced themselves for the sweltering conditions including Phoenix where people from the city’s heat response programme prepared heat relief kits, manned hydration stations and distributed water bottles to the homeless.

A Salvation Army volunteer gives water to a man in Phoenix. Pic: AP

A woman sells water along the Strip during an excessive heat warning in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Bridget Bennett
A woman sells water in Las Vegas during an excessive heat warning

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, there have been at least 12 heat-related deaths since the warm months began in April. Further deaths were under investigation to establish whether they were heat-related, according to a county report.

More on Nevada

In California’s Death Valley, which is no stranger to very high temperatures, a 71-year-old man collapsed and died last Tuesday in 49.4C (121F) heat.

The tourist hotspot which marks the lowest point in the US, holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, at 56.7C (131.1F).

On Sunday, Salt Lake City in Utah recorded a temperature of 40C (104F), federal forecasters said.

A hiker passes a sign warning hikers of extreme heat at the start of the Golden Canyon trail on July 11, 2023, in Death Valley National Park, Calif. A 71-year-old Los Angeles-area man died at the trailhead on Tuesday, July 18, as temperatures reached 121 degrees (49 Celsius) or higher and rangers suspect heat was a factor, the National Park Service said in a statement Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)
Death Valley. Pic: AP

A concentrated sphere of heat, known as a “heat dome,” has powered the excessively high temperatures.

El Nino is another factor. This weather cycle brings warm water from the Pacific Ocean to the US western coast, and it could contribute to other extreme events like droughts and cyclones across the world.

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US hit by scorching temperatures

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The heat expansion is set to occur as the world recorded its hottest ever June since records began.

For the first time ever, Earth’s average air temperature was more than 1.5C hotter than before industrial times, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).


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