Heat Wave Worsens Across Western US As States See Triple Digit Temperature

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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The western U.S. has experienced a significant heat wave that brought triple digit temperatures this week, according to the National Weather Service. 

Phoenix, Arizona, saw a record high of 115 degrees Fahrenheit for the second day in a row Tuesday and is expected to reach up to 117 degrees Thursday, according to a tweet from the Phoenix National Weather Service. (RELATED: Wildfires Spread Through California And Arizona As Drought Continues)

Salt Lake City experienced 107 degree temperature on Tuesday, tying the all-time record only seen in 1960 and 2002, according to a tweet from Salt Lake City National Weather Service


“No easy way to say this, so we’ll cut straight to the chase: it’s going to be *very* hot for a *long time*,” Salt Lake City National Weather Services said in a tweet.  

The heat waves are worsening due to drying soils caused by the severe drought seen throughout the west, Park Williams, University of California, Los Angeles, climate and fire expert told the Associated Press. These states should expect up to five heat waves this summer, Williams said.

The cause of the heat wave is a massive ridge of high pressure, also called a heat dome, that is growing over the western U.S., Katharine Hayhoe, a climate researcher and chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, told CNN

“A combination of sinking air, clear skies, and lengthy solar radiation will send temperatures as much as 10 to 25 degrees above seasonal values this week,” Hayhoe said. 

Over 40 million people have received a heat advisory, CNN reported.  

The high temperatures this week make for a “perfect storm” for wildfires, Rupa Basu, chief of air and climate epidemiology for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, told CNBC.

At least 28 large wildfires are burning more than 640 square miles, The Weather Channel said on Wednesday.

Arizona has the largest burning area, with eight fires consuming more than 422 square miles on Thursday morning, the Weather Channel said.

The Telegraph Fire, Arizona’s largest wildfire, has burned 258 square acres and is 72% contained on Thursday, the Weather Channel said.

Montana, Utah, and New Mexico are also fighting growing wildfires as of Thursday, the Weather Channel reported.

Over 89% of the Western U.S. is experiencing significant droughts while 55% of these states are labeled under extreme or exceptional drought also of Thursday, the Weather Channel said.

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