PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix sizzled through its 31st consecutive day of at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius) and other parts of the country grappled Sunday with record temperatures after a week that saw significant portions of the U.S. population subject to extreme heat.
The National Weather Service said Phoenix climbed to a high of 111 F (43.8 Celsius) before the day was through.
July has been so steamy thus far that scientists calculate it will be the hottest month ever recorded and likely the warmest human civilization has seen. The World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service on Thursday proclaimed July beyond record-smashing.
The historic heat began blasting the lower Southwest U.S. in late June, stretching from Texas across New Mexico and Arizona and into California’s desert.
On Sunday, a massive wildfire burning out of control in California’s Mojave National Preserve spread rapidly amid erratic winds, while firefighters reported progress against another major blaze to the south that prompted evacuations.
Flames 20 feet (6 meters) high in some spots have charred more than 110 square miles (284 square kilometers) of desert scrub, juniper and Joshua tree woodland, according to a Sunday update.
Triple-digit heat was expected in parts of the central San Joaquin Valley through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
As climate change brings hotter and longer heat waves, record temperatures across the U.S. have killed dozens of people, and the poorest Americans suffer the most. Air conditioning, once a luxury, is now a matter of survival.
Last year, all 86 heat-related deaths indoors were in uncool-ed environments.
It’s the poorest and people of color, from Kansas City to Detroit to New York City and beyond, who are far more likely to face grueling heat without air conditioning, according to a Boston University analysis of 115 U.S. metro areas.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas continues to flirt with its hottest July ever. The city is closing in on its 2010 record for the average of the high and low each day for July, which stands at 96.2 F (35.5 C).
The extreme heat is also hitting the eastern U.S, as soaring temperatures moved from the Midwest into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where some places recorded their warmest days so far this year.
By Associated Press