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article imageBrutal heat wave hits U.S. southwestern states this week

By Karen Graham     Jun 19, 2017 in Environment
The American Southwest is expected to see and feel one of the most brutal and dangerous heat waves seen in many years, with scorching temperatures hitting the triple digits in parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
The National Weather Service is reporting that a strong ridge of high pressure will continue to build across much of the southwestern states early this week. This will result in record or near-record temperatures at the hottest time of year. These temperatures will be extreme even by desert standards.
Temperatures could climb to 110 degrees Fahrenheit across much of the week with a slight cooling toward the end of the week. But the NWS says temperature levels will continue into next weekend. The Associated Press is reporting that Phoenix, Arizona could see temperatures reaching up to 120 degrees by Tuesday or Wednesday - A temperature not seen in the desert city in over 20 years.
Wunderground Weather Historian Christopher C. Burt told the AP that Phoenix temperatures rose to 120 degrees and above only three times in recorded history — twice in 1990 and once in 1995. Phoenix has hit 118 degrees at least 11 times in the past, including last summer.
"The theme over the next week will be the intense and dangerous heat wave that will impact the entire region," the NWS's Phoenix office said on Sunday in a forecast discussion. "Monday through Thursday will be the days that we likely tie or break records."
On Monday, the NWS discussion added that "Unfortunately, the cooling trend levels off such that a lot of places don't drop out of High Heat Risk. Thus, extending the Excessive Heat Warning through Saturday."
Health warnings issued
Needless to say, but heat does kill. And even though residents in Tucson and Phoenix deal with temperatures reaching 110 degrees quite often in the summer months, the human body just wasn't made to withstand temperatures of 120 degrees or more.
The human body's internal cooling system isn't very effective when temperatures go above 110 degrees says Dr. Moneesh Bhow, medical director for Banner University Medical Center Emergency Department. He explains that one of the ways we regulate our temperature is be radiating heat through our skin into the air, but the process is reversed when the external temperatures climb to 110 degrees or higher.
“When that happens we have to rely on our second mechanism, which is sweating,” Dr. Bhow said. "Sweat makes your skin feel cooler and some heat is removed as it evaporates."
Heatwave  Lyon France 2003
People cooling down in public fountains in Paris France during the 2003 heatwave, which killed an estimated 15 000 people.
Franck Prevel
And it goes without saying that people with respiratory issues should avoid going outside when the temperatures are so high due to the poor air quality during a heat wave. And everyone is reminded to never leave pets or children in a closed up vehicle.
Weather and health officials are reminding everyone to drink plenty of water, stay indoors, crank up the air conditioning, and to check on friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who might be at risk of heat exhaustion or stroke reports Mashable.
Heatwave affecting airlines
Extreme high temperatures make it harder for planes to take off. With changes in the air density, pilots need to apply more thrust or impose weight restrictions such as flying with less cargo.
"Aircraft can still take off in temperatures this high," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "But because the air is less dense at 120 degrees versus 100 or 90 degrees, it takes more runway for takeoff and a longer distance to gain altitude."
More about record heatwave, southwestern US, dangerous heat, 120 degrees, Airlines
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