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Las Vegas heat ties ‘98 record for July 16 at 116

Updated July 16, 2023 - 5:12 pm

Sweltering summer temperatures in the Las Vegas Valley tied a record high on Sunday, and an excessive heat warning for the area will remain in effect until Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

After twitching between 113 and 115 for several hours, it briefly reached 116 to tie the record for July 16 set in 1998, said weather service meteorologist Trevor Boucher.

There is a 45 percent chance that the mercury will hit or exceed the record of 116 for Sunday, said Matt Woods, a weather service meteorologist in Las Vegas.

“It looks like the heat is going to peak on Sunday, but it’s going to last through the weekend and into early next week,” Woods said. “We’ll probably see some daily records broken this weekend or at least tied.”

As for lows, “generally we’re looking at 90 to possibly like 92 degrees like Monday, so you’re not going to get really any relief overnight,” Woods said.

The meteorological explanation for why temperatures are tying or breaking records in the valley this year is “a big, strong area of high pressure that’s building over the southwestern U.S.,” Woods said. “This is one of the stronger high pressure systems that we’ve had or forecasting to have over Las Vegas. One of the stronger ones we’ve had on record.”

Hot in Death Valley

What about California’s Death Valley, the capital of high temperatures in the Southwest?

Woods said that the highest level ever recorded there was 134 degrees, measured in 1913 and recognized by the World Meteorological Organization. The official high reached 128 on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported that four people have died from causes related to heat in the 424 national parks across the country so far this year, including a 65-year-old man from San Diego found dead in his vehicle at Death Valley National Park just this month.

The high temperatures won’t necessarily deter tourists this week, because as much as one-fifth of the 1.1 million people who visit Death Valley each year do so in June, July and August, the AP reported.

The National Park Service has posted a danger warning about extreme summer heat on its website for Death Valley National Park, telling visitors to expect highs of 110 to 120 degrees.

“Drink plenty of water and carry extra,” the park service recommended. “Avoid hiking, do not hike after 10 a.m. Travel prepared to survive. In the case of a heat related illness, get to a cool place and seek help immediately.”

More people seeking relief

For an expected extreme heat period through Monday, Clark County has opened cooling stations to serve as refuges from the weather, including eight recreation centers in Las Vegas, two in Henderson, two in Laughlin and one in Mesquite and 25 public libraries in Las Vegas, Bunkerville, Goodsprings, Indian Springs, Laughlin, Searchlight, Mesquite, Moapa, Moapa Valley, Sandy Valley and Mt. Charleston.

At one of the stations, the Salvation Army complex at 35 W. Owens Ave. near downtown Las Vegas, about 40 men sat inside an air-conditioned room, while a group of women cooled off inside a separate room.

On a typical day, the Salvation Army sees about 250 people, but on triple-digit heat days like Friday, that increases to about 300 to 340, said Nicole Wessendorf, the Salvation Army’s public relations and community engagement manager.

Shaun Crow, 32, was in the room assigned to men, not only to escape the heat, but to continue his search downtown for a new job in the hotel business.

“It’s a lot easier to kind of like relax and get your body right and your mind right and then figure out what you’re going to do,” Crow said. “The shelter here is actually really helpful because you can kind of get your bearings and then get a direction and go for it.”

Dangerous heat

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, there have been seven heat-related deaths so far in 2023.

Heat-related illness occurs when someone’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool down, which may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, ultimately damaging the brain or other vital organs.

University Medical Center has treated 41 people for heat exposure so far this year, with 33 of those patients treated between June and the middle of July.

Since the start of July, there has been a 71 percent increase in heat-related emergency calls, according to data from the Clark County Fire Department.

The City of Las Vegas, the City of North Las Vegas and the City of Henderson have yet to provide any data on heat related emergency calls.

With triple-digit temperatures common from June through September, health officials offered recommendations for staying cool and safe to reduce chances of heat-related illnesses.

Those precautions include:

— Plan activities early in the morning or later in the evening.

— Dress in light, loose-fitting clothes.

— Use sunscreen.

— Avoid being out in the sun for extended periods.

— Bring an adequate supply of water for outdoor activities.

— Drink plenty of water at regular intervals, regardless of activity level.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow @JeffBurbank2 on Twitter. Contact Jimmy Romo at jromo@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0350. Follow @jimi_writes on Twitter. Review-Journal intern Kiara Adams contributed to this report.

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