31 Million People in U.S. West and Southwest Prepare for Another Record-Breaking Heatwave

A man runs with his dog as a surfing class enters the ocean during a heatwave in Oceanside, California, U.S., June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

More than 31 million people across the US west and south-west are bracing for a brutal heatwave that could bring triple-digit temperatures this weekend, with authorities warning that records could be broken in many regions of California and Nevada. Officials have said that Las Vegas could even surpass its record-high temperature of 117F.

The “heat risk” is classified as “very high” across much of this area, meaning all residents there face “very high risk of heat-related illness due to both the long duration heat, and the lack of overnight relief”, the National Weather Service (NWS) has said.

While the heat risk is slightly lower in places at higher elevations – classified as “high” or “moderate” – most of the population remains at risk for heat-related illnesses, especially persons “who are sensitive to heat and/or those without adequate cooling or hydration,” according to the NWS.

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In California, inland areas are expected to reel from the heatwave. The state’s largest urban centers, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, are along the coast, so they will see benefits from ocean cooling, and not endure the extreme highs.

“Temperatures are going to be about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year,” Diana Crofts-Pelayo, a spokesperson for California’s office of emergency services, said earlier this week. “This will be a record-setting heatwave.”

This heatwave comes in the wake of record highs across Pacific north-west states and western Canada last week. The heat-related death toll in Oregon and Washington has risen to a total of nearly 200 people; as many as 500 persons are believed to have died in British Columbia.

On Friday, officials in Washington state announced emergency rules that provide farm workers and others who work outdoors more protection from hot weather. Under the new rules, when the temperature is at or above 100F (38C), employers must provide shade or another way for employees to cool down and ensure a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Victoria Bekiempis

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