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Heatzilla Will March Across the West From California to Arizona

  • High-pressure ridge set to bring record high temperatures
  • Triple-digit readings possible in across Southwestern states

It may be just a forecast, but it looks inevitable at this point: The West is about to bake.

An excessive heat watch from California across southern Arizona warning of temperatures reaching well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) has been posted days in advance of the actual event. That early warning is a sign that meteorologists’ confidence is hot.

“For Sunday, some of the forecast highs across the Southwest are near or above records,” said Robert Oravec, a senior branch forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “That goes for both highs and record-high low temperatures.”

High lows can sound a bit funny to say but what they translate to is misery: Temperatures stay so warm overnight that there is little relief from the heat even after the sun has set, Oravec said.

Phoenix, which set a record of 122 degrees on June 26, 1990, could reach 114 to 119 by early next week, said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Burbank, California, could reach 102 degrees Monday and Sacramento could get there the next day. By the way, forecasts key in on Burbank, rather than Los Angeles, “because it is a better reporter station,” Rogers said. Los Angeles International Airport is too close to the coast and can be cooler.

Next Week

Through next week, temperatures across the West from Washington to California and east into the Rocky Mountains could be at least 8 degrees above normal, according to Rogers’ forecast Thursday. The heat will reach into Mexico as well.

“Heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke will be likely,” the National Weather Service said.

No person, dog or any other living thing should be left in a car. “Temperatures inside the vehicle can become lethal quickly,” the weather service said.

Ridge Building

The heat will be the result of a strong high pressure ridge that is building over the central U.S. and will spread across the West, Oravec said. Heat advisories stretched from Nebraska to Texas and as far east as Kentucky.

Temperatures in Houston are forecast to hover near 95 through the weekend. High temperatures and humidity across the southern Great Plains will make it feel like 100 or more, the weather service said.

While the onset of summer -- the seasons change Monday -- is part of the reason temperatures are rising, some credit has to be given to the high-pressure ridge itself.

“It’s a pretty anomalous ridge; it’s pretty strong for this time of year,” Oravec said.

Meanwhile, in the East, it looks like temperatures will be about normal, Rogers said. There is a chance a storm could develop in the eastern U.S. by early next week; the forecast is still a little hazy, Oravec said.

Still, by then it will officially be summer.

“It won’t take much to get to a hot weather pattern,” Oravec said.

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