Extreme heat across south-west US and Canada
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More than 110 million people continue to be affected by extreme heat warnings from coast to coast as a result of a heat dome over the US south-west.

As many as 38 cities could set new temperature records.

There is a risk that Las Vegas’ record high of 117F (47.2C) will be broken or tied by the intense heatwave on Sunday.

Meanwhile, southern Europe is experiencing soaring temperatures and Canada is battling its worst wildfire season in decades.

Climate change linked to human activities will increase the severity and frequency of extreme weather events, scientists have warned.

On the outskirts of Los Angeles, hundreds of firefighters have been battling brush fires in blistering heat and low humidity.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Death Valley in California reached 128F (53.9C) on Sunday. A temperature of 134F (56.7C) was reliably recorded there, the hottest ever on Earth.

Security guards are guarding the fountains at upscale hotels and casinos to prevent people from jumping into them. Las Vegas’ normally crowded streets are considerably empty.

Since more than a month has passed, El Paso, Texas, has been experiencing temperatures over 100F (38C).

Over the past 17 days, Phoenix, Arizona, has experienced temperatures above 109.4F (43C). It was a modest respite from recent peaks on Sunday, but daytime temperatures still reached 114F (45.5C).

In spite of this, authorities warn that vulnerable people – such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly – are at serious risk from heat-related illnesses.

In mobile clinics, homeless people suffering from third-degree burns are treated. Several public buildings in California and Nevada have been converted into “cooling centers” where people can escape the heat.

Park Ranger Matthew Lamar said: “We haven’t seen 130F (54.4C) in Death Valley for over 100 years. We got 130 in 2020, 130 in 2021, and maybe 130 again this weekend.”

According to him, tourists were attracted to the region because of the extreme weather.

Some visitors said that others should not lose sight of the fact that these extremes are a symptom of climate change.

“People are coming out here to celebrate this. They’re excited. It’s not a milestone. I’m calling it Happy Death Day.” Tom Comitta told Reuters on Saturday.

  • Climate change affects the weather in four ways

  • In the south-west of the United States, extreme heat intensifies

Heat domes are caused when high pressure pushes air towards the ground, compressing it and causing it to heat. Warm air then rises again, creating a cycle in which air sinks through the centre of the ‘dome’ and rises up its sides.

Furthermore, the pressure prevents the formation of other weather systems that would cool the area, such as rain clouds.

It has been reported by the NWS that the current system in the southwest US is among the strongest of its kind in decades.

According to the Weather Channel, the dome will expand across the nation’s south by next week, raising temperatures in other southern states.

Other parts of the country are bracing for severe thunderstorms and flash floods, while north-eastern states may suffer another bout of poor air quality due to the ongoing wildfires in Canada.

As if the rain coming out of the sky wasn’t enough, if you start looking up tomorrow, you’re going to see a similar situation as what we had a couple of weeks ago because of the degradation of air quality [from the wildfires],” Governor Kathy Hochul said at a press conference. We may have reached a new normal, as I mentioned before.

Unless governments around the world cut emissions drastically, temperatures will continue to rise as the world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial revolution began.