Vegas could break heat record as tens of millions of people across the US suffer scorching temperatures


Visitors to Las Vegas briefly disembarked to take photos on Friday and were hit by blast furnace air.

But most will vacation in a very different climate — in casinos, where the cool air conditioning may require a light sweater.

Meanwhile, paramedics saw a different world as dehydrated construction workers, passed out elderly residents and others suffered from a torrid heatwave that threatened to shatter the city’s record 117 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend.

Few places in the scorching Southwest exemplify the surreal contrast between indoor and outdoor life quite like Las Vegas, a neon-lit city teeming with resorts, casinos, swimming pools, indoor nightclubs and shopping.

Climatologists are sounding the alarm about the impact of human-caused global warming, warning that 2023 will be the warmest year on record.
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Tens of millions of others in California and the Southwest were also looking for ways to stay cool and safe from the dangers of extreme heat.

“We’ve been talking about this heat wave for a week now, and now it’s entering its most intense phase,” the National Weather Service wrote on Friday.

Almost a third of Americans were under extreme heat warnings, surveillance and alerts. The blistering heatwave was predicted to get worse this weekend in Nevada, Arizona and California, where temperatures in the desert are forecast to soar above 120 degrees Fahrenheit at times during the day and remain at 90 degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

Pedestrians sweat from the intense heat
Scientists have found that global surface temperatures have increased by about 2°F since 1880, making extreme heat more common.
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Sergio Cajamarca, his family and their dog Max were among those who lined up in front of the city’s iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to pose for photos. The temperature already reached over 100 F before noon.

“I like the city, especially at night. It’s just the heat,” said Cajamarca, 46, an electrician from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

His daughter Kathy Zhagui, 20, offered her prescription for relief: “Probably just water, ice, stay inside.”

Meteorologists in Las Vegas warned people not to underestimate the danger. “This heat wave is NOT a typical desert heat due to its long duration, extreme daytime temperatures and warm nights.

Everyone needs to take this heat seriously, including those who live in the desert,” the Las Vegas National Weather Service said in a tweet.

Phoenix marked its 15th straight day of temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the city on Friday. By late afternoon, they reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit, well on track to surpass the longest recorded hot spell.

The record is 18 days, recorded in 1974.

“This weekend will see some of the most severe and hottest conditions we’ve seen,” said David Hondula, the city’s chief heat officer. “I think it’s time for maximum vigilance in the community.”

During the intense heatwave, residents take a break from the heat in the Horseshoe Las Vegas pool.
During the intense heatwave, residents take a break from the heat in the Horseshoe Las Vegas pool.
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The heat was expected to continue well into the next week as a high-pressure dome moves west from Texas.

“We get a lot of heat-related illnesses now, a lot of dehydration, heat exhaustion,” said Dr. Ashkan Morim, who works in the emergency room at Dignity Health Siena Hospital in suburban Henderson.

Morim said he treated tourists this week who had been drinking by the pool for too long and were severely dehydrated; a stranded hiker who needed gallons of fluids to regain his strength; and a man in his 70s who fell and was confined to his home for seven hours until help arrived.

The man left the home thermostat set at 30°C out of concern for his electricity bill, since the air conditioning was on constantly to counteract the high night-time temperatures.

Pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip sweat in the almost unbearable heat.
Pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip sweat in the almost unbearable heat.
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Regional health officials in Las Vegas Thursday launched a new database to report “heat-related” and “heat-related” deaths in the city and surrounding Clark County from April through October.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, seven people have died since April 11, and a total of 152 deaths over the past year have been determined to be heat-related.

In addition to casinos, air-conditioned public libraries, police station lobbies, and other locations from Texas to California should also be open to the public to provide relief for at least part of the day.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, the wading pools are open for extended periods and many public pools offer free entry.

In Boise, Idaho, churches and other nonprofit groups provided water, sunscreen, and shelter.

Temperatures were less severe closer to the Pacific coast but still made for a sweaty day at the Los Angeles-area picket lines, where actors joined screenwriters in striking producers.

In Sacramento, the California State Fair began with organizers canceling scheduled horse races due to animal safety concerns.

A pedestrian cools off in water sprinklers along the sidewalk during the heatwave in what may be a record for the hottest temperature yet.
A pedestrian cools off in water sprinklers on the sidewalk during the heatwave, possibly setting the record for hottest temperatures yet.
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Employers have been reminded that workers working outdoors must be given water, shade and regular breaks to cool off.

Pet owners were asked to keep most of their animals indoors. “Dogs are more prone to heat stroke and can literally die in minutes. Please leave them at home in the air conditioner,” said David Szymanski, park manager for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in a statement.

Meanwhile, wildfire season increased amid hot, dry conditions, and a string of fires broke out across California this week, Natural Resources Agency secretary Wade Crowfoot said at a media briefing.

Global climate change is “pushing” heatwaves “to the extreme,” Crowfoot added.

Firefighters in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles, battled multiple bushfires that broke out Friday afternoon.

Stefan Gligorevic, a software engineer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania visiting Las Vegas for the first time, said he plans to stay hydrated and not let it ruin his vacation.

“Cold beer and probably a walk around the resorts. You use the shadows when you can,” said Gligorevic. “Yes, in any case.”

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