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It’s About to Get Dangerously Hot in the Southwest

The southwest US is about to face a strong, and long, heat wave

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Death Valley is the site of the hottest measured temperature on Earth. Photo: Ray Ordinario

Death Valley, California, is the hottest place on Earth. On July 12, 1913, the temperature hit 134°F. And now, because of a heat wave expected for the western United States this week, it looks like Death Valley could beat its own record. The forecast for Death Valley, says Climate Central, is calling for high temperatures from 126 to 129°F—it’s not hard to see how the temperature could spike even higher in some places in the Valley.

But the scorching heat isn’t going to be limited to Death Valley—Nevada, Arizona, and parts of California will join in the cook-off. The National Weather Service says that afternoon temperatures are expected to hit from 105 to 116 degrees, depending where you are. But this isn’t just a burst of heat; this wave is expected to drag on and on.

Las Vegas could come close to tying its record for the longest stretch of days at or above 110°F, which is 10 straight, set in 1961. Phoenix may approach its record for the number of consecutive days at or above 116°F, which is four, set in 1990. Reliable weather records began there in 1896. Forecast highs in Phoenix range between 115°F to 120°F for Friday through Sunday.

A map of the affected regions. Photo: National Weather Service

Heat waves are actually incredibly dangerous, says KVAL:

“Extreme heat events, or heat waves, are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes. “They cause more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.”

If you live in the affected area, the BBC has some tips on how to stay safe.

More from Smithsonian.com:

At 107°F, Death Valley Sets Record for Hottest Daily Low

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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