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Heat wave bakes Laughlin, with highs hotter than Las Vegas

LAUGHLIN — As 117 degrees of hellish sun beat down on him, Leo Tuballa struggled Wednesday to stick a canopy into the sandy beach of Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area.

“This weather is just too much, too hot,” said Tuballa, a four-year resident of nearby Bullhead City, Arizona.

Tuballa said he and his family often make the short drive to Laughlin, which likely recorded the hottest temperature in Nevada on Wednesday and may have broken the town’s temperature record for the date. The National Weather Service reported a high of 117 but will not receive Laughlin’s final temperature readings until early Thursday, meteorologist Clay Morgan said.

That’s because unlike Las Vegas, which receives up-to-date temperatures from McCarran International Airport, Laughlin is dependent on a cooperative observer — a person who volunteers to take temperature readings at 7 each morning.

“What you’re looking at is likely an underestimate,” Morgan said of the 117 high Wednesday. Laughlin’s record for any June 16 in recorded history was set in 2000 at 118.

If Laughlin breaks the record, the new mark would be added to a list of records tied and surpassed this week amid a heat wave baking the Western U.S. Las Vegas broke an 80-year-old record of its own Wednesday with a high of 116.

Laughlin also holds a small chance this week of matching or breaking the highest temperature ever recorded in Nevada — 125 degrees, set in 1994. A high of 122 is expected here Thursday and Friday.

“It’ll be fairly close, but a pretty low probability of that happening,” meteorologist Stan Czyzyk said.

Laughlin native Taylor Babcock, who works at the Big Bend recreation area, spent most of his Wednesday in the park’s air-conditioned fee booth.

“There’s an expression we have working out here,” Babcock said. “Don’t kill yourself. There’s nothing so serious that you need to put yourself at risk.”

Despite living his whole life here, Babcock said the summer heat always take some adjusting. He noted that park aides often pass out heat exhaustion information to visitors in the summer, regardless if they are locals or tourists.

“Once you hit 110 and above, there really is no getting used to it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been out here for 50 years or you’re used to hot weather.”

After a 10-minute battle setting up the canopy, Tuballa and his wife sat in the shade and watched their two sons play in the Colorado River. The couple reminisced about their recent family vacation to San Diego, where they fished at a pier.

“We were wearing jackets and long pants during summer,” Tuballa said, shaking his head. “How is it cold by the beach?”

Contact Mathew Miranda at mmiranda@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mathewjmiranda on Twitter.

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