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Record-setting heat will continue to torment millions of Americans this weekend

By Steve Almasy, Gene Norman and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

(CNN) — The weekend is off to a sizzling start as more than one-third of US residents face heat advisories and additional cities are expected to see record temperatures in the coming days.

The list includes customarily hot Las Vegas, where temperatures are expected to be near 114 degrees Saturday and even hotter Sunday, when it could break the daily record of 116.

Nearly 130 million people in both the West and East are under heat alerts across 18 states and the District of Columbia.

“These conditions will be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly if not taken seriously,” meteorologists with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center said in a forecast discussion. “The multi-day nature of the heat and record warm overnight temperatures will cause heat stress to build in people without adequate cooling and hydration.”

The dangerous heat will expand into the Intermountain West and northern High Plains by next week, forecasters say.

Extreme heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, leaving hundreds of people dead each year, according to the weather service.

In San Jose, California, a homeless man died Tuesday due to the extreme heat, Mayor Matt Mahan said. The man was 69, according to the mayor’s spokesperson, Tasha Dean, citing information from the Santa Clara Medical Examiner’s Office.

The same day, a 10-year-old died in Arizona after experiencing a heat-related emergency while hiking with family in South Mountain Park and Preserve, the Phoenix Police Department said.

Also in Arizona, a 69-year-old hiker from Austin, Texas, died last week after hiking at the Grand Canyon, according to the National Park Service. Heat was a contributing factor, officials said.

Major to extreme heat risk, the highest 2 levels, are expected for much of California and the Southwest on Saturday and Sunday, meaning health impacts from heat become more likely in anyone without adequate hydration or cooling.

Even in the Pacific Northwest, the heat is punishing

Parts of Oregon will experience triple digits up to five days with poor overnight relief, the National Weather Service in Portland said Friday.

state of emergency was declared in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county, for this weekend as temperatures were expected to climb.

“I’m particularly worried about the thousands of people heading to music festivals and sporting events this weekend,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Richard Bruno said in a news release. “They’ll be spending a long time outside, may have little access to shade and water and may not recognize the risk.”

Bruno said the area has had few hot days so far this year, and residents’ bodies have not yet acclimated to the heat.

Other areas of the West were experiencing unusual heat. Palm Springs, California, reached 124 degrees Friday afternoon, exceeding the previous all-time record high for the date of 123 degrees set in 2021.

An all-time record high of 105 set in 2012 was broken in Raleigh, North Carolina, where temperatures of 106 degrees were recorded Friday.

Additional daily record highs set Friday included:

• 127 degrees: Death Valley, California
• 114 degrees: San Jacinto, California
• 109 degrees: Medford, Oregon
• 109 degrees: Campo, California

The weather service said more than 35 million people in the contiguous United States will see temperatures in excess of 100 degrees in the next seven days.

Conditions ripe for wildfire spread

The extreme heat – combined with gusty winds and low humidity – means any wildfires that start will spread quickly through already parched vegetation.

Red flag warnings are in effect through Saturday night across the West, including in the area of the Thompson Fire, which has consumed more than 3,700 acres in California’s Butte County since it was reported Tuesday. The blaze, which was 71% contained by Saturday morning, has forced thousands of people to evacuate and prompted about 2,000 firefighters to battle the flames under the extreme heat and extremely dry conditions in the Oroville area.

The wildfire has injured 11 firefighters, including eight who were affected by heat-related illnesses, according to Chris Peterson, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – also known as Cal Fire. Twenty-six structures have been destroyed by the blaze and more than 450 are under threat.

In Central California, four firefighters have been injured battling the 908-acre French Fire about 55 miles north of Fresno, according to Cal Fire. The blaze is 25% contained.

“Challenges are immense. We’re dealing with the increased temperatures, very steep and remote terrain,” Cal Fire deputy director of communications Nick Schuler told CNN, adding “the ability for rapid growth from the amount of vegetation that’s across the state is a challenge.”

The largest current fire in the state is on federal land, with the Basin Fire having consumed more than 14,000 acres. According to officials with Sierra National Forest, the fire is 46% contained and hasn’t grown much in the past day.

The state’s been seeing an active fire season, with more than 150,000 acres burned so far in 2024 compared to 8,674 acres burned by this time last year, according to Cal Fire.

There are now nearly two dozen active wildfires of varying sizes burning across California, and the Thompson Fire is among the largest where Cal Fire is the lead agency.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the area of the Thompson Fire on Wednesday. The declaration cleared the path for additional resources, including the possibility of mobilizing the California National Guard to assist.

It will feel like 110 in some areas of the South and mid-Atlantic

As the West swelters, hazardous heat persists in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and humidity will make it feel like up to 110 degrees at times.

Heat advisories are in place from the beaches of Alabama and Florida all the way to upstate New York.

“Take extra precautions when outside. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing,” the National Weather Service said. “Try to limit strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Take action when you see symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Raja Razek, Dave Alsup, Taylor Romine, Cindy Von Quednow, Paradise Afshar, Cheri Mossburg, Amanda Musa and Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: cnn-weather/environment

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