Dozens of daily records were set Monday as highs soared into the 90s and hit triple digits across cities in the Western part of the country, stretching all the way north to the Canadian border.
Denver hit 101 and Montana’s capital, Helena, reached a sizzling 104 degrees. Records in Salt Lake City and Billings, Montana, were broken by 5 degrees or more. Record highs are typically only broken by 1 or 2 degrees, so the fact many were obliterated by large margins speaks to the intensity of the heat that’s baking that part of the country.
And there’s not much relief in sight, as the extreme heat across the West will only intensify and become more widespread through the rest of the week.
About 200 million people are projected to experience temperatures over 90 degrees over the next seven days, and 40 million over 100 degrees.
More than 50 million Americans were under heat warnings and watches Tuesday as triple digits, coupled with bone-dry humidity, choke the West throughout the week. Highs could skyrocket up to 30 degrees above average in some spots, and nearly 200 daily record highs are possible by the end of the week.
The records that fall will encompass both the afternoon highs baked under the sun and overnight lows that fail to cool down. The records could also include monthly and all-time record highs.
For example, temperatures as high as 125 to 127 degrees could sear portions of the desert Southwest, challenging the all-time hottest temperatures for the month of June. The situation has become so dire that power grid operators in California and Texas are urging residents to conserve power in response to the heat wave to avoid rolling blackouts.
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For Texas, this is particularly concerning given their hottest days of the year are yet to come. Climatologically speaking, temperatures reach their peak during the month of August across the Lone Star State.
And even “escaping” to the mountains won’t bring any relief. By Thursday, Grand Junction, Colorado, at 4,500 feet could set a record of 105; Denver at 5,280 feet could set a record of 97; Flagstaff, Arizona, at 6,900 feet, could set a record of 91.
About 4 million people remain under red flag warnings as the fire danger intensifies to critical levels, and these warnings are expected to expand as the high heat and gusty winds continue to engulf the West through the remainder of the week.