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Las Vegas hits record highs of 115 degrees for fifth day in a row, heatwave scorches U.S. | National

Las Vegas hits record highs of 115 degrees for fifth day in a row, heatwave scorches U.S. | National

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas experienced its fifth consecutive day of sweltering heat on Wednesday, with temperatures reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 degrees Celsius) or higher, amid a prolonged heat wave expected to swelter across much of the United States through the weekend.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the temperature at Harry Reid International Airport climbed to 46 degrees Celsius, surpassing the old record of four consecutive days set in July 2005. And by the weekend, the record could be extended or even doubled.

Even by desert standards, the sustained heat that Nevada’s largest city is currently experiencing is almost unprecedented. Meteorologists are calling it the “most extreme heat wave” since the National Weather Service began keeping weather records in Las Vegas in 1937.

Since June 1, long before the official start of summer, the city has already broken 16 heat records, “and we’re not even in the middle of July yet,” meteorologist Morgan Stessman said Wednesday. That includes Sunday’s all-time high of 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius), which beat the previous record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius).

Alyse Sobosan said this July was the hottest in the 15 years she has lived in Las Vegas. She said she doesn’t go outside during the day if she can avoid it.

“It’s oppressively hot,” she said. “It’s like you can’t really live your life.”

It’s also dangerously hot, health officials say. There have been at least nine heat-related deaths this year in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, according to the county coroner’s office. Officials believe the death toll is likely higher.

“Even apparently healthy people of average age can suffer from heat illnesses when it is so hot that the body can hardly cool down,” says Alexis Brignola, an epidemiologist at the Southern Nevada Health District.

For the homeless and others without access to a safe environment, authorities have set up emergency cooling centers in community centers throughout southern Nevada.

The Las Vegas area has had three heat warnings this summer, with a total of 12 days of dangerous heat, and little relief after sunset, Stessman said.

Keith Bailey and Lee Doss met at a Las Vegas park early Wednesday morning to escape the heat and exercise their dogs Breakie, Ollie and Stanley.

“If I don’t get out by 8:30 in the morning, I’m not going to get anything done that day,” Bailey said, wearing a sun hat as the dogs played in the grass.

More than 142 million people in the U.S. were under heat warnings on Wednesday, mostly in western states, where dozens of locations reached or broke heat records over the weekend and are expected to remain so throughout the week.

Oregon has seen record daily temperatures, with Portland reaching 103.4 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday and Salem and Eugene reaching 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures are believed to have caused eight deaths, the state medical examiner’s office said. The youngest person to die was 33, but all the others were 64 and older.

On the other side of the country, the National Weather Service warned of a significant to extreme heat threat for parts of the east coast.

A heat warning remained in effect Wednesday for the greater Philadelphia area, northern Delaware and most of New Jersey. Temperatures hovered around 90°F (32.2°C) in most of the region, and forecasters warned the heat index could rise to 108°F (42.2°C). The warning was set to expire at 8 p.m. Wednesday, but forecasters said it may need to be extended.

The heat was blamed for the death of a motorcyclist in Death Valley National Park over the weekend. In Death Valley, tourists lined up on Tuesday to take photos in front of a giant thermometer that read 48.9 degrees Celsius.

Simon Pell and Lisa Gregory from London left their air-conditioned camper van to face a midday heatwave that would be unthinkable at home.

“I wanted to experience what it felt like,” Pell said. “It’s an incredible experience.”

In the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service is investigating the third hiker death in recent weeks. On parts of some hiking trails, temperatures can reach up to 49°C in the shade.

An extreme heat warning remained in effect across much of southern and central Arizona on Wednesday. Meteorologists said the high temperature in Phoenix was expected to reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 degrees Celsius), up from 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.6 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, tying the previous record set in 1958.

In Marana, Arizona, near Tucson, authorities were investigating the death of a 2-year-old girl who was left alone in a vehicle on a Tuesday afternoon in temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.8 degrees Celsius). Police Capt. Tim Brunenkant said the car’s engine appeared to have been left running and the air conditioning was working, but it was unclear how long the girl was alone.

In Lake Havasu, Arizona, a four-month-old baby died Friday from heat-related complications after becoming unconscious during a boat ride, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department said. Temperatures that day reached 48.8 degrees Celsius.

The U.S. heat wave came as global temperatures hit a record high for the 13th month in a row in June and were 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times for the 12th month in a row, according to Europe’s Copernicus climate service. Most of that heat trapped by human-caused climate change comes from long-term warming from greenhouse gases released when coal, oil and natural gas are burned, scientists say.

Firefighters in Henderson, Nevada, last week became the first in the region to use what city spokeswoman Madeleine Skains called “polar pods,” devices filled with water and ice to cool people showing symptoms of heat stroke or a related medical emergency.

The extreme heat in the west has also dried out the vegetation, which is fueling forest fires.

A new fire in Oregon, the Larch Creek Fire, quickly spread to more than 5 square miles Tuesday night as flames ravaged grasslands in Wasco County, prompting evacuations for outlying homes.

In California, firefighters battled at least 19 wildfires on Wednesday, including a 43-square-mile blaze that prompted evacuation orders for about 200 homes in the mountains of Santa Barbara County.