Records tumble in Southwest US as temperatures soar well into triple digits and 122 in Death Valley

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Temperatures soared past 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) across the Southwest United States on Thursday, breaking records from southeast California to Arizona. This marked the region’s first heat wave of the year, and it was expected to continue for at least another day.

Even though summer officially begins in two weeks, about half of Arizona and Nevada were under an excessive heat alert, which the National Weather Service decided to extend until Friday evening. Las Vegas, in particular, had its heat alert extended through Saturday.

The scorching weather was felt by Eleanor Wallace, a 9-year-old visiting Phoenix from northern Utah. She and her mother, Megan Wallace, were on a hike to celebrate Eleanor’s birthday. Eleanor described the heat as unbearable.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix reported a new record high of 113 F (45 C) on Thursday, surpassing the previous record of 111 F (44 C) set in 2016. They classified the conditions as “dangerously hot.”
There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries caused by the heat. However, at a campaign rally for Donald Trump in Phoenix, 11 people suffered from heat exhaustion and were taken to the hospital. They were treated and released, according to fire officials. In Las Vegas, where the temperature reached a new record of 111 degrees Fahrenheit (43.8 degrees Celsius), the Clark County Fire Department received at least 12 calls for heat exposure since midnight Wednesday. Out of those calls, nine patients required hospital treatment.
Several areas in Arizona, California, and Nevada have broken records by a degree or two. Death Valley National Park set a record high for the date, reaching 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), surpassing the previous record of 121 degrees (49.4 degrees Celsius) set in 1996. This desert area is located 194 feet (59 meters) below sea level near the California-Nevada border, and temperature records date back to 1911.

The heat has arrived much earlier than usual, even in places that are typically cooler due to higher elevations. Reno, for example, normally has a high of 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) during this time of year, but it reached a record-breaking 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) on Thursday. Temperature records in Reno date back to 1888.

The National Weather Service predicts a slight cooling trend across the region this weekend, but temperatures will still remain in the triple digits, reaching up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in central and southern Arizona.
Despite the unusually hot weather in Phoenix on Thursday, Oscar Tomasio from Cleveland, Ohio, didn’t let it stop him from proposing to his girlfriend, Megan McCracken. They embarked on a challenging hike up Camelback Mountain, carrying 3 liters of water each.

Tomasio shared with The Associated Press, “It was a tough hike. The heat was intense, so we started early to beat it.”

He continued, “The scenery was breathtaking. We didn’t reach the summit because Megan was feeling a bit uneasy with the heat. That’s when I decided to propose as the sun rose.”

McCracken confirmed that they had planned a sunrise hike and woke up around 5 a.m. to avoid both the heat and the impending trail closure.

“Maybe we should have started even earlier,” she remarked.

Megan Wallace, the mother of the birthday girl from Utah, who also brought water bottles, added, “We began our hike just a few minutes past 6, thinking we were well-prepared. However, we went through all of our water, and the temperature was hotter than what we’re used to.”