Death Valley sees continued tourist interest despite dangerous heat wave

July 9, 2024

Tourists flock to Death Valley amidst extreme heat

As reported by AP News, tourists from Europe and adventurers from around the U.S. are still visiting Death Valley National Park despite a dangerous heat wave.

The park, known for being one of the hottest places on Earth, has drawn French, Spanish, English, and Swiss tourists who left their air-conditioned vehicles to capture the barren landscape on camera.

American visitors also enjoyed the unique experience, with one visitor, Drew Belt from Tupelo, Mississippi, saying: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kind of like walking on Mars.”

Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds warned: “High heat like this can pose real threats to your health.” The heat wave has led to record high temperatures in several areas, including Death Valley, where a motorcyclist died from heat exposure over the weekend.

Heat wave impacts wider region

The heat wave gripping large parts of the U.S. has resulted in record daily high temperatures in Oregon, suspected to have caused four deaths in the Portland area.

More than 146 million people across the U.S. were under heat alerts on Monday, particularly in Western states.

Many locations in the West and Pacific Northwest have broken previous heat records and are expected to continue to do so throughout the week.

In Oregon’s Multnomah County, four suspected heat-related deaths are under investigation.

The deaths included county residents aged 64, 75, and 84, and a 33-year-old man transported to a Portland hospital from outside the county.

Portland experienced record temperatures on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with highs expected to continue into Tuesday.

Global temperature records

The early U.S. heat wave coincides with a global trend of record warmth.

According to the European climate service Copernicus, June marked the 13th straight month of record warm global temperatures, with the world being 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times for the 12th consecutive month.

In Death Valley, a high temperature of 128 F (53.3 C) was recorded over the weekend.

Emergency medical helicopters were unable to respond to incidents due to the extreme heat, which prevents safe flight operations.

More extreme temperatures are expected, potentially reaching 130 F (54.4 C) around midweek.

Fires and heat advisories in the West

Extreme heat and ongoing drought conditions in the West have dried out vegetation, increasing the risk of wildfires.

In California, a wildfire in Santa Barbara County expanded to over 34 square miles, prompting evacuations, including areas around the former Neverland Ranch.

The fire was only 8% contained as of Monday night.

Another fire, the Royal Fire, burned more than 150 acres of forest west of Lake Tahoe, sending ash into the town of Truckee, California.

Heat advisories have been issued for higher elevations, including the usually temperate Tahoe area, where temperatures have also set new records.

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