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Death Valley hits 130 degrees as relentless Western heat wave adds fuel to wildfires

On Friday, Death Valley, California, hit 130 degrees.

On Saturday, Las Vegas tied their all-time hottest temperature, hitting 117 degrees and the state of Utah also tied its all-time hottest statewide record, hitting 117 in St. George.

On Sunday morning, nearly 30 million people remained under heat alerts across several Western states, where temperatures were forecast again soar to 10-20 degrees above average.

Las Vegas, for example, was forecast again to climb to near 117 degrees. If this happened for the second time in a row, it will be the first time in recorded history.

And all eyes were on Death Valley, to see if they hit 130 degrees again for the second time in three days, or perhaps higher than that.

Death Valley is already considered the hottest place in the world, where it hit 134 degrees back in 1913. No other reliable weather station has recorded a hotter temperature on Earth.

Overnight lows have also been very warm with this heat wave. Lows are failing to drop below the 90s in desert locations and below the 80s in several of the larger metro areas. When overnight hours provide little relief, this can increase the risk for heat illness and strain infrastructure.

Las Vegas, in fact, only cooled down to a suffocating 94 degrees on Sunday morning, which is just one degree shy of their all-time warmest low of 95 degrees. These dangerously high temperatures are expected to last through the first half of the week for most of the western region.

But parts of the desert southwest and Four Corners region of Colorado, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico may get some heat relief in the form of monsoon showers and thunderstorms. This will be welcome rain after the most recent indicators revealed a staggering nearly 95% of the West is now covered in drought.

And the heat has continued to fuel the wildfire risk out West.

On Saturday, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon exhibited rapid fire spread and the Beckwourth Complex fire in northern California doubled in size. Two firefighters were killed while fighting blazes in Arizona.

Due to climate change, heat waves are happening more frequently, lasting longer and are increasingly more intense. In a study performed by World Weather Attribution, research revealed the Pacific Northwest heat wave that occurred at the end of June was “virtually impossible” without climate change. The warmer atmosphere, due to human-induced warming, made the heat wave 150 times more likely and on average four degrees hotter compared to the 1800s.

The United States also just recorded its hottest June on record.

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