More than 30 million Americans in western states were under excessive heat warnings or advisories on Saturday while forecasters warned residents to brace for more record-high temperatures.
The heat wave now hitting the west coast is the third heat wave to hit the region this summer, as noted by The New York Times.
In late June, the Pacific Northwest suffered under a ‘heat dome’ that led to about 200 deaths in Oregon and Washington. Now, the same atmospheric effect is blanketing California and nearby states in heat through the weekend.
National Weather Service Officials have issued an excessive heat warning for much of the Golden State, which is in place until Monday.
Other southwestern states are also facing extreme heat temperatures – with flights being cancelled after McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas recorded a high temperature of 116F on Friday, Axios reported.
CALIFORNIA: Southern California residents cool off in the Whitewater River on Saturday in Whitewater as dangerously hot conditions are expected to hit the Coachella Valley this weekend with possible highs of 115 to 120 degrees, according to the National Weather Service
CALIFORNIA: Max the dog dries off after a quick bath in the Whitewater River on Saturday
NEVADA: Golden Davis cools off in a mister along the Las Vegas Strip on Friday as Sin City faces record-breaking temperatures
CALIFORNIA: PA person exercises in the morning heat on Saturday in Palm Springs
ARIZONA: U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector Chief Patrol Agent Chris Clem, with a thermometer showing 108F in the background, talks during ‘Dangers of Crossing in the Yuma Desert’ presentation along the U.S.-Mexico border
Sacramento Valley was forecast to see record-breaking 115F temperatures on Saturday and Sunday. Merced, a city in the San Joaquin Valley northwest of Fresno, hit 111F on Saturday which broke the 108F record set in 1961.
Death Valley was forecast to hit 123F on Saturday – hours after recording 130F – the highest temperature experienced on Earth in 90 years.
Southern Inland California has also been predicted to experience 117F weather, with temperatures only forecast to drop slightly on Monday.
The stretch of weather extending through the weekend could bring ‘dangerously hot conditions,’ the National Weather Service said.
The New York Times reported that cities and towns across the Central Valley in California opened cooling centers and temporary housing on Friday.
California ISO, the state’s power regulator, and Nevada public utility NV Energy asked residents to conserve power through the triple-digit heat.
A map shows extreme heat conditions in parts of California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Utah and New Mexico
Las Vegas hit a high of 117F on Saturday, tying its all-time record
Residents have been asked to drop their water consumption by 15 percent as Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a regional drought emergency to include 50 of the state’s 58 counties, The New York Times reported.
The Oroville Dam – California’s largest water reservoir – is currently experiencing such low water levels that a nearby hydro-electric power station which uses its water may soon have to be shut down.
Lake Oroville, a reservoir formed by the Oroville Dam impounding the Feather River in northern California, has been pictured this year with a dry and cracked riverbed – a sobering reminder of the massive drought that ran from 2012 to 2016.
The reservoir has been described by SFist.com as ‘the poster child in that spate of drought images seven years ago.’
State officials would shut down the power plant for the first time ever If the lake’s water level falls below 640 feet, SFGate.com reported.
According to LakesOnline.com, the lake’s water levels were at 671.30 feet on Saturday night.
In Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in April that Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir which provides much of the water for southwestern states, may face its first federally declared water shortage.
Low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on April 27, 2021 in Oroville, California with dry and cracked riverbeds
Lake Mead marina is pictured, south of Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 23, 2020
Lake Mead is formed by the Hoover Dam compounding the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border near Las Vegas.
Projections released by the US Bureau of Reclamation in April show that the elevation of the water in Lake Mead will be just 1,067 feet at the end of this year, the Review-Journal reported.
If the water hits that low of a level, there would be a federal shortage declaration for the first time since the lake was filled in the 1930s. The declaration would reduce the annual amount of water sent to Arizona and Nevada.
Lake Mead’s water level was at about 1,068 feet on Saturday meaning the water is under 40 percent of the lake’s 28,945,000 acre-feet capacity.
Lake Mead loses about 800,000 acre-feet of water annually through evaporation, according to the Water Education Foundation.
McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas tweeted about the extreme heat conditions
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas hit 117F on Saturday evening, tying for the all-time record highest temperature in Sin City, according to a statement from the National Weather Service.
‘Lots of questions about airlines’ flight cancellations today. @LASairport is open and flights are taking off and landing,’ the airport tweeted on Friday.
‘@FAANews implemented a traffic management program due to weather conditions, causing some delays. Please check with airline to learn your flight’s status.’
The airport later posted a video of American Airlines flight B772 taking off just after 3 p.m. on Friday to show how planes leaving McCarran will take off toward the east when there are extreme temperatures.
‘Fun Fact — when it’s really hot aircraft departing from @LASairport will often take off to the east, taking advantage of the downward slope of runways 8L and 8R to help gain speed and lift,’ the airport tweeted.
According to the news website Interesting Engineering, planes can have difficulty taking off in extreme heat conditions.
Hot weather causes air density to decrease as air molecules move faster and spread out, the outlet noted. With lower air density, airplane wings have less air to push down on to produce lift.
At the same time, propellers and fan blade engines lose efficiency because of the lower air pressure so it takes more work for the plane’s engines to produce thrust.
For a plane to take off, it would have to travel faster to create enough lift for the plane to get off the ground – which would require a longer runway for the plane to build enough speed.
As the extreme heat conditions continue, passengers may face flight delays at airports in the Southwest.