A deadly heatwave simmering in the US southwest since spring is expected to spread to several other states, with multiple heat warnings being issued.
The heatwave, which has led to extreme temperatures such as 45.5C (114F) which was recorded in Arizona’s capital Phoenix on Sunday, is forecast to expand into central and eastern parts of the country for the last week of July.
The US National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and advisories across 13 states including parts of California, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, as well as the southern tip of Florida.
Currently, temperatures are fluctuating between the high 30s and early 40s in the country’s southwestern regions.
At least four tourists in the southwest are believed to have died due to heat since the beginning of June, the National Park Service reported.
Some cities have braced themselves for the sweltering conditions including Phoenix where people from the city’s heat response programme prepared heat relief kits, manned hydration stations and distributed water bottles to the homeless.
In Arizona’s Maricopa County, there have been at least 12 heat-related deaths since the warm months began in April. Further deaths were under investigation to establish whether they were heat-related, according to a county report.
In California’s Death Valley, which is no stranger to very high temperatures, a 71-year-old man collapsed and died last Tuesday in 49.4C (121F) heat.
The tourist hotspot which marks the lowest point in the US, holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, at 56.7C (131.1F).
On Sunday, Salt Lake City in Utah recorded a temperature of 40C (104F), federal forecasters said.
A concentrated sphere of heat, known as a “heat dome,” has powered the excessively high temperatures.
El Nino is another factor. This weather cycle brings warm water from the Pacific Ocean to the US western coast, and it could contribute to other extreme events like droughts and cyclones across the world.
The heat expansion is set to occur as the world recorded its hottest ever June since records began.
For the first time ever, Earth’s average air temperature was more than 1.5C hotter than before industrial times, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).