Persistent heat wave breaks records across United States

July 8, 2024

Record-breaking temperatures amid heat wave in the western United States

A persistent heat wave is affecting the United States, particularly the western regions, as reported by AP News.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued an excessive heat warning covering approximately 36 million people.

NWS meteorologist Bryan Jackson noted that several locations in the West and Pacific Northwest have either tied or broken previous heat records.

In Northern California, temperatures soared above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius), with Redding reaching a record 119 degrees (48.3 degrees Celsius).

Phoenix experienced a new daily record for the warmest low temperature, remaining above 92 degrees (33.3 degrees Celsius) throughout Sunday.

Death Valley National Park recorded temperatures of 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53.3 degrees Celsius) on both Saturday and Sunday.

Tragically, a motorcyclist died from heat exposure, and another was hospitalized due to the extreme heat.

Public warnings and safety measures

Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds urged visitors to exercise caution: “While this is a very exciting time to experience potential world record setting temperatures in Death Valley, we encourage visitors to choose their activities carefully, avoiding prolonged periods of time outside of an air-conditioned vehicle or building when temperatures are this high.”

The extreme heat conditions also hampered emergency medical helicopter operations.

In Nevada, Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas recorded temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius).

In Oregon, Salem hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius), breaking a record set in 1960.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, temperatures surpassed 100 degrees in many areas, although no excessive heat advisories were issued.

Socioeconomic and racial disparities in heat impacts

The heat wave has highlighted disparities in heat-related impacts across socioeconomic and racial lines.

Ruben Berrios, a resident of Mott Haven in New York’s South Bronx, emphasized the severe effects of extreme heat in low-income neighborhoods: “I lost two persons. They were close to me.”

The South Bronx, predominantly Latino and Black, experiences significantly higher temperatures than wealthier, predominantly white neighborhoods nearby.

Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in New York, noted: “Only a quarter of New York City’s population is African American, but half of the deaths from heat are African Americans.”

Historical discriminatory housing policies, such as redlining, have limited green spaces and increased heat vulnerability in minority neighborhoods.

Mitigation efforts and future outlook

Efforts to mitigate these impacts include New York City’s activation of a heat emergency plan, which designates air-conditioned facilities as cooling centers and distributes “cool kits” and indoor thermometers.

Environmentalists are advocating for more tree planting and green spaces to combat urban heat islands.

As extreme heat becomes more common, experts warn of even more severe conditions in the future.

David Jones, a historian of science at Harvard University, stated: “The way things are going, the heat waves in 2044 are going to be so much worse than they are now.”

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