US Heatwave: Dangerous Temperatures Impact Over 90 Million Americans
A scorching heatwave is set to intensify across the United States, with heat advisories issued from the southwest to Washington state. As of Friday, at least 93 million Americans are under heat advisories, spanning from Florida to Texas to California.
In Texas, the use of air conditioners has caused the state to exceed its previous record for power consumption as people try to stay cool. The National Weather Service (NWS) has warned that this July heatwave could be extremely dangerous.
According to the NWS, around 27 million people will experience temperatures surpassing 110F (43C) in the coming days. This blistering heat is a result of an upper-level ridge of high pressure, which typically brings warmer temperatures. The NWS has described this weather system as "one of the strongest" the region has ever seen.
"The subtropical ridge responsible for this likely historic heatwave across the region is not showing signs of letting up anytime soon," stated the NWS.
Every year, approximately 700 people in the US die from heat-related causes, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both Friday and Saturday are expected to be exceptionally hot, with daytime highs reaching up to 115F (46C). Some areas may continue to experience this scorching heat until next week.
While these states are accustomed to hot summers, multiple regions are projected to match or exceed their all-time high heat records. Las Vegas could match its all-time high of 117F (47C) in the next few days, while Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places on Earth, may surpass its official all-time high temperature of 130F (54C).
Parts of the southwestern US have already endured intensely hot temperatures over the past week. In El Paso, Texas, temperatures have reached triple digits Fahrenheit for 27 consecutive days. Overnight temperatures are expected to remain "abnormally warm" in certain areas, providing little relief from the heat.
The demand for power in Texas has exceeded record numbers for two consecutive days due to the heat. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), responsible for managing 90% of the state's power load, reported a preliminary usage of 81,406 megawatts on Thursday, surpassing Wednesday's record of 81,351 megawatts. While ERCOT has assured that they have enough resources to meet the demand, they anticipate even higher power usage on Friday.
This US heatwave mirrors similar scorching conditions experienced in Europe, which led Greece to close the Acropolis, one of its major tourist attractions, on Friday.
Last week, the global average temperature reached 63F (17.23C), the highest ever recorded. Scientists attribute these rising temperatures to climate change and the naturally occurring weather pattern known as El Niño, which causes temperatures to rise and occurs every three to seven years.
The world has already warmed by approximately 1.1C since the beginning of the industrial era, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments worldwide take significant measures to reduce emissions.