A MAN and a woman stop along a road to cool themselves in a water mister in Las Vegas, Nevada.—AFP
A MAN and a woman stop along a road to cool themselves in a water mister in Las Vegas, Nevada.—AFP

LOS ANGELES: Much of the western United States baked for a third day on Wednesday under a punishing heatwave that has set temperature records, prompted health warnings and strained power grids.

Although a shift in the weather has provided some relief to northern states, including Montana and Idaho, the worst was still to come for California and parts of the Southwest, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Schoening said.

“We’re in a long-duration heatwave across the Western US,” Schoening said. “Across the desert Southwest extending into California we’re still ramping up the temperatures throughout the rest of the week.”

Salt Lake City, Utah, on Tuesday tied its all-time high temperature since record-keeping began in 1894, at 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). Phoenix tied a record for this date at 115 degrees and Needles, California, in the Mojave Desert near the border of both Nevada and Arizona, hit 121 degrees, also tying a daily record.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings across the US West, warning that such conditions can be dangerous, even fatal. No deaths had been reported from the brutally hot weather as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Try not to spend too much time outside during the hottest part of the day. Wear light clothing, stay hydrated,” Schoening said, adding that residents should be “keeping an eye on pets, checking on the elderly, not leaving anyone, including kids or pets in hot cars.”

The weather service also issued red flag warnings of high fire danger in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Major wildfires were burning in Colorado and Arizona.

Wildfires scorched more than 6,500 square miles (17,000 square km) of land in 2020, destroying hundreds of Californian homes during a particularly fierce fire season.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2021

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