Scorching Southwest heat wave could challenge all-time records

AccuWeather.com's forecast highs for the Southwest Friday through Monday (AccuWeather.com)

AccuWeather.com’s forecast peak highs for the Southwest Friday through Monday (AccuWeather.com)

Unthinkably high temperatures, even in one of the world’s hottest zones – the desert Southwest, are forecast Friday into early next week.

High temperatures in Death Valley, California are forecast to reach 125 to 130 degrees daily between Friday and Wednesday next week.  For reference, the hottest temperature ever measured on the planet, 134 degrees, occurred in Death Valley at Furnace Creek Ranch on July 10, 1913 – almost exactly 100 years ago.

Related: Death Valley holder of world’s hottest temperature; previous Libyan record invalidated

“Death Valley has not reached 130 since the days after that 134-degree record was set in 1913, so this could be a 100-year event…” blogs Seattle broadcast meteorologist Scott Sistek.

Could this bastion of heat could challenge its own world record? Unlikely. But while 134 may be a stretch, 128 is certainly in play, its all-time record high for the month of June set in 1994.

Incredibly, overnight low temperatures may not drop below 100 degrees Sunday night and lows most nights in this torrid stretch will hold in the mid-to-upper 90s.

(National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

Las Vegas is forecast to have highs in the 114-118 degree range Friday through Tuesday, with overnight lows generally around 90. If it hits 115 or higher every day during that span, it will best the record for most consecutive days at that blistering level, set July 16-19, 2005.

(National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

Sweltering, record-challenging conditions are also forecast for the Phoenix area.

Writes the National Weather Service office in Phoenix:

MODELS HAVENT WAVERED A BIT ON THEIR FORECASTS OF UNRELENTING HEAT THIS PERIOD. HOTTEST DAYS APPEAR TO BE FRIDAY AND SATURDAY…WITH LOWER DESERT TEMPERATURES RANGING FROM 115 TO 121 DEGREES

The punishing heat will not be confined to the desert but will extend north through Salt Lake City and into the northern Rockies, east into western Texas, and southwest into the hills adjacent to Los Angeles.

The National Weather Service is urging residents to follow heat safety guidelines, cautioning heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths.

The cause of the heat wave is a massive dome of sinking air over the western U.S. set up by a massive ridge or bump in the jet stream curling around a giant area of stormy weather in the northeast Pacific Ocean.

Simulation of atmospheric pressure at high altitudes (18,000 feet or 500 mb).  Red areas indicate high pressure and green/blue areas indicate low pressures.  (WeatherBell.com)

Simulation of atmospheric pressure at high altitudes (18,000 feet or 500 mb). Red areas indicate high pressure and green/blue areas indicate low pressures. (WeatherBell.com)

This bulging heat dome is forecast to remain stationary for days allowing extremely hot conditions to persist in some locations. However, it is expected to gradually contract and weaken before eventually shifting towards the Pacific Northwest by the middle of next week.

Many of these same areas expecting extreme heat are also dealing with drought. These two factors feed-off each other: dry ground heats up faster, which dries it further, heating it more…and the self-reinforcing cycle continues until either cooler air moves in and/or it rains…

(U.S. Drought Monitor)

(U.S. Drought Monitor)

Related: Heat Wave May Threaten World’s Hottest Temp. Record (Climate Central)

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