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Hot in the Southwest and Texas: Almost, but no cigar!

By: Christopher C. Burt, 5:44 AM GMT on June 30, 2013

Hot in the Southwest and Texas: Almost, but no cigar!

Saturday, June 29th, saw most sites in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and the desert region of southern California come within 1°-3° of their all-time heat records. Some significant sites saw their June monthly records broken. A very brief summary is posted herein.

The most significant (meaning for a site with at least 100 years of observation) record set on Saturday, June 29th was Palm Springs, California where the temperature peaked at 122°F (records go back to 1908). This was a June record, previous being 121° on June 29, 1994, and just 1°F short of their all-time record of 123° set on August 1, 1993. Salt Lake City, Utah reached 105° today (and yesterday) breaking their June record for heat (previous being 104° on June 21, 1961), their all-time record is 107° on July 13, 2002. Phoenix, Arizona apparently reached 119°, their 4th highest temperature ever measured but short of their June or all-time record of 122° set on June 28, 1990. Death Valley reached 127° short of their June record (128° in June 1994). Las Vegas hit 115° again (same as Friday June 28th). In a story that strains credulity, some music concert promoter thought there was no problem in hosting an outdoor concert in such heat. Hundreds of people had to be rescued by Las Vegas medical emergency services after the concert promoter’s private health staff failed to keep up with the heat exhaustion victims. Hope it was a good band…but, hey, how could anyone play music, already a fairly exhausting task, in such heat? Not sure if the band members also had to be rescued.

The temperatures didn’t quite make the all-time grade in the region as a result of a high altitude cirrus layer, remnants of dissipating monsoon-induced storms that developed over the mountains of Arizona and California. This may also inhibit temperatures on Sunday from reaching all-time record-breaking levels. It takes a perfect confluence of atmospheric conditions to break all-time heat records in the desert regions of the Southwest: powerful upper-level atmospheric high pressure, clear skies, and diurnal heating. All but two of these were in place today. The clear skies were lacking.

Meanwhile, almost forgotten in the media focus on the heat in the Southwest, Houston and San Antonio, Texas recorded their hottest June temperatures on record Saturday. Houston’s Int’l Airport measured 107° (previous record 105° on numerous occasions) and San Antonio 108° (previous 107° on June 15, 1998) It was 108° in Austin as well (record remains 109° set just last year on June 26th).

I’ll post an update on Sunday, June 30th, around 7 p.m. PST when the data for the day has come in, and a more comprehensive overview of this historic heat wave in the week to come.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Mini Blog

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Phoenix, Las Vegas Bake In Scorching Heat


A visitor to the Furnace Creek Vistitor Center walks by a digital thermometer in Death Vally National Park Friday, June 28, 2013 in Furnace Creek, Calif. Excessive heat warnings will continue for much of the Desert Southwest as building high pressure triggers major warming in eastern California, Nevada, and Arizona. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. — Scorching heat blistered the Southwest on Saturday, where highs between 115 and 120 degrees were recorded for parts of Arizona, Nevada and California.

Forecasters said temperatures in sunbaked Las Vegas shot up to 115 degrees on Saturday afternoon, two degrees short of the city's all-time record.

Phoenix hit 119 degrees by mid-afternoon, breaking the record for June 29 that was set in 1994. And large swaths of California sweltered under extreme heat warnings, which are expected to last into Tuesday night – and maybe even longer.

The forecast for Death Valley called for 128 degrees Saturday, but it was 3 degrees shy of that, according to unofficial reports from the National Weather Service. Death Valley's record high of 134 degrees, set a century ago, stands as the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

A couple hours south in Baker, the temperature peaked at an unofficial 117 degrees in the road tripper's oasis in the Mojave Desert on Interstate 15. The strip of gas stations and restaurants between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is known by travelers for the giant thermometer that often notes temperatures in the triple digits.

At the Mad Greek restaurant there, a waitress called out orders for "Chocolate shake! Strawberry shake!" while the temperature hovered at 112 degrees during the lunch rush.

In Southern California, Riverside saw 105 degrees, and Palm Springs reached 122 degrees. At Lancaster Fox Field in Los Angeles County, temperatures reached 111, a record.

To make matters worse, National Weather Service meteorologists John Dumas said cooling ocean breezes haven't been traveling far enough inland overnight to fan Southern California's overheated valleys and deserts.

Burbank set a record overnight low with temperatures dipping to 74 degrees overnight, much warmer than the previous record of 68 degrees for Saturday's early hours.

In Northern California, temperatures Saturday reached the upper 90s in San Jose. Farther north, triple-digit temps were reached in downtown Sacramento on Saturday, according to the weather service.

Authorities say a man died and another was hospitalized in serious condition Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas fire and rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski says paramedics responded to a home with no air conditioning and found an elderly man dead. He says while the man had medical issues, paramedics thought his condition was aggravated by the heat.

Paramedics say another elderly man was on a long trip in his car when the air conditioning went out. Paramedics say he taken to the hospital in serious condition with heat stroke after he stopped in Las Vegas.

Cooling stations were set up to shelter the homeless and elderly people who can't afford to run their air conditioners. In Phoenix, Joe Arpaio, the famously hard-nosed sheriff who runs a tent jail, planned to distribute ice cream and cold towels to inmates this weekend.

Officials said personnel were added to the Border Patrol's search-and-rescue unit because of the danger to people trying to slip across the Mexican border. At least seven people have been found dead in the last week in Arizona after falling victim to the brutal desert heat.

Temperatures are also expected to soar across Utah and into Wyoming and Idaho, with triple-digit heat forecast for the Boise area. Cities in Washington state that are better known for cool, rainy weather should break the 90s next week.

The heat was so punishing that rangers took up positions at trailheads at Lake Mead in Nevada to persuade people not to hike. Zookeepers in Phoenix hosed down the elephants and fed tigers frozen fish snacks. Dogs were at risk of burning their paws on scorched pavement, and airlines kept close watch on the heat for fear that it could cause flights to be delayed.


Skoloff reported from Phoenix. Also contributing were Robert Jablon and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer in Los Angeles, Julie Jacobson and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev., Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, Cristina Silva and Bob Christie in Phoenix, and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M.
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