Monday July 15 2024

Record-Breaking heatwave sweeps across much of Western U.S.

9 July 2024 09:00 (UTC+04:00)
Record-Breaking heatwave sweeps across much of Western U.S.
Nazrin Abdul
Nazrin Abdul
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This weekend, millions across the Western United States endured scorching temperatures that shattered records, with little relief anticipated in the days ahead, as reported by the New York Times, Azernews reports.

From Oregon through California and into Arizona's deserts, numerous cities grappled with stifling heat. Jacob Asherman from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center linked the intense heat to a persistent ridge of high-pressure air enveloping much of the region. This atmospheric pattern effectively trapped hot air near the surface, preventing its dispersion into the upper atmosphere.

Cities like Las Vegas, accustomed to triple-digit summer heat, prepared for extreme conditions, with forecasts peaking at 117 degrees over the weekend. Conversely, areas unaccustomed to such temperatures faced unexpected challenges during this extended stretch of scorching weather.

In Portland, Oregon, temperatures hovered around 100 degrees for five consecutive days starting Friday, a significant departure from its typically mild summers where air-conditioning needs were minimal. Responding to the crisis, Governor Tina Kotek declared a statewide heat emergency, emphasizing the escalating dangers associated with climate change.

"The unprecedented temperatures and prolonged heat pose a significant threat, particularly to vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and outdoor workers," Ms. Kotek cautioned in a statement.

The Pacific Northwest has witnessed increasingly frequent deadly heat waves in recent years. In the summer of 2021 alone, temperatures soared 30 degrees above normal, resulting in approximately 600 more deaths than usual across Washington and Oregon.

To mitigate the impact, Portland city authorities established cooling centers in air-conditioned facilities and installed outdoor misting stations in parks. Meanwhile, southern Oregon anticipated even higher temperatures, with Medford expecting highs of 110 degrees on Saturday.

Downtown Portland remained nearly deserted on Saturday as temperatures approached the upper 90s, while Highway 26 experienced heavy traffic as residents sought cooler coastal routes.

In Ashland, Oregon, where temperatures reached 111 degrees, a local crepe restaurant closed early due to the intense heat. Meanwhile, homeless individuals seeking relief gathered at the city’s sole cooling center, offering cold water, watermelon slices, potato salad, and yoga mats.

Throughout the West, cities accustomed to triple-digit temperatures grappled anew with the heat. Palm Springs, California, set a record at 124 degrees, while Phoenix surpassed its own daily record at 118 degrees under cloudless skies, with no monsoon storms in sight to provide summer relief.

Even parts of the eastern United States faced extreme heat, weeks after an unexpected heat wave took many by surprise. From Texas to New Jersey, high temperatures combined with humidity posed hazardous conditions. In Raleigh, North Carolina, temperatures soared to 106 degrees on Friday, breaking local records.

Overall, the unprecedented heatwave this weekend highlighted the escalating challenges of climate change across the United States, impacting both familiar and unexpected regions with potentially deadly consequences.

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