A relentless heat wave that sent temperatures into the triple digits brought Phoenix its 18th consecutive day of high temperatures of 110 degrees or higher on Monday, tying a record set in 1974, officials said.
The heat, which has put about a quarter of the U.S. population on a heat warning, is expected to continue to engulf south, southwest and southern Florida, according to the National Weather Service.
More than 70 million people across the country have faced dangerous levels of heat as of Monday morning, according to a New York Times analysis of current Weather Service warnings and population data from LandScan.
The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth is 134 degrees Fahrenheit, or 56.7 degrees Celsius, a reading taken at Furnace Creek in Death Valley near the Nevada-California border in 1913, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Archive of world weather and climate extremes.
Sunday, the temperature there it reached 126 degrees at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, according to the Weather Service. As of early Monday afternoon, the temperature reached 120 degrees.
Record-breaking heat is expected midweek from Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley, according to the Weather Service.
Phoenix experienced two weeks of 110-degree days — one of its longest stretches yet — as a « heat dome » set records across the Southwest over the weekend.
Even the city’s low temperatures are setting records for being so extreme.
Phoenix had the most consecutive days – eight – with cold temperatures in the 1990s, the Phoenix National Weather Service said on Monday. The low Monday morning was 95 degrees, the service said.
In South Florida, the weather service also warned on Monday of high temperatures in the low 90s, with the heat index expected to approach 105-110 degrees. The heat index measures how hot it is outside, taking into account temperature and humidity.
In Coral Gables outside Miami, Travaris Dotson, 47, who works for a traffic control firm, was sitting under a tree with colleagues and drinking water to escape the heat.
« I go in and out of the truck to freshen up, » she said. « Must. »
A few meters away, Raul Roque, project manager for a construction company, was also taking a break under a tree. Originally from Miami, Mr. Roque said he couldn’t remember the heat being so intense.
He described it as a dry, « rising from the ground » heat. To cope, he drank a gallon and a half of water every day, or « twice as much as normal, » to stay hydrated, he said.
For those looking to cool off, there will be little chance of doing so in the places most affected by the high temperatures, with particularly high daily minimums.
The heat can be especially devastating for people already suffering from health problems.
In the Phoenix area, for example, there were 12 heat-related deaths reported this year through mid-June and an additional 40 open cases in which heat was investigated as a factor, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner. And in Texas, more than a dozen heat-related deaths have been recorded so far in 2023, The Associated Press he reported.
Over the next few days, temperatures will be highest in the desert Southwest, where highs could be in the 110s and lows only in the 80s and 90s.
To stay safe on extremely hot days, the Weather Service advised people on Monday to drink plenty of fluids, stay in cooler rooms, stay out of the sun and supervise relatives and neighbours, especially older people who live alone.
« Wear light-colored clothing, » Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service, he said on Twitter Monday. « The loose fit helps, too. »
Aside from the heat, other parts of the country are facing additional severe weather warnings, particularly for rain.
« Severe storms and periods of heavy rain will roll across the nation’s heartland to the Ohio Valley and northeast through Tuesday, » the weather service said.
The northeast has already seen heavy rain and flash flooding over the weekend.
In Pennsylvania, flash rains hit parts of Bucks County north of Philadelphia, killing at least five people and trapping others in their cars. On one part of Long Island in New York, five inches of rain fell in less than two hours.
« We are in very, very unstable weather, » said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. « Your car can go from a safe place to a place of death. »
And if that weren’t enough, smoke from Canada’s ongoing wildfires will hit the United States again this week and could trigger air quality warnings over parts of the northern High Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast.
Camillus Baker AND Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed report.