Heat wave sweeps through Arizona, US Southwest

Excessive heat is expected across the U.S. Southwest into early next week, with forecasters warning of temperatures over 110 degrees (43.3 Celsius) in desert cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas.

High temperatures are expected to be be the norm through Aug. 17 across much of Arizona, and the National Weather Service’s office in Albuquerque said high temperature records might be broken in central and eastern New Mexico.

Temperatures were expected to reach 114 degrees (45.5 Celsius) in Phoenix on both Friday and Saturday and 113 degrees (45 degrees) in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning for 9 Arizona counties:

  • Gila and Maricopa Counties (8/12 - 8/17)
  • Graham, Greenlee, Pima and Santa Cruz Counties (8/13 - 8/16)
  • La Paz, Pinal and Yuma Counties (8/13 - 8/17)

”The 5-day forecast can be described by one word...HOT! Temps warm up to around 114° by Friday and stay there for awhile,” the weather service’s Phoenix office said in a Twitter post.

2020 marks Phoenix's hottest summer on record, according to data from the National Weather Service. This broken record came days after the city broke the record for the highest number days where the high reached 100 degrees for more.

Monsoon activity is at an all-time low in Arizona as well - this has been one of the driest monsoon seasons in the past 20 years.

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Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

Stay in air-conditioned buildings

Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)

Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day

Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside

Driving in extreme temperatures

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include: 

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire. 

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

MORE: https://azdot.gov/about/transportation-safety/severe-weather

The Associated Press contributed to this report.