HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 10: The Johnson family spend time together in the shade outside of their house on June 10, 2022, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
High-temperature records fell by the dozen on Saturday, the peak of a prolonged heat wave that sent millions of southwestern United States residents to head for cooler pastures.
In the Southwest, triple-digit temperatures became the norm late in the week, peaking on Friday and Saturday in a major way. Southwestern states were hit with a northward bulge in the jet stream over the week, allowing unseasonably hot air to stick around the region. The push through the area broke records in metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and Austin and sent degrees up into the 120s in California's Death Valley.
Phoenix was sweltering beginning on Wednesday, recording 110 F for the first time in 2022, beating out the typical June 13 milestone heat day in the city by five days. The weekend kept up the heat in the city to record-breaking proportions, shattering a daily record on Friday by topping out at 113 F. The previous daily record, 111 F, had stood since 1978. On Saturday, temperatures went even higher, going up to 114 F and tying a daily record that has been around for over 100 years, set in 1918.
Record-high temperatures continued to be broken in Phoenix on Sunday when the temperature reached 113 F. The city, he noted, is already averaging 4.1 F above normal for the month of June thus far.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 10: Cousins Nai Nai, 5, and CJ Roberts, 7, have a water gun fight at a park near their home on June 10, 2022, in Houston, Texas. Texas is under a heatwave alert as portions of the state are projected to see record high temperatures throughout the weekend. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
North of Phoenix, in the hub of Las Vegas, another daily record was broken on Friday. In Nevada's most populous area, temperatures rose to 109 F, crumbling a daily record of 108 degrees set in 1996. The 109-degree day was also the highest temperature of the year, set for the second straight day after Thursday's mercury rose to 108 degrees. Temperatures on both Thursday and Friday were 10 degrees above the average June high temperatures in the city, which usually reach the upper 90s.
In California's Death Valley, infamous for being one of Earth's premier hot spots, temperatures also climbed to record levels on Friday and Saturday. Friday's mercury rose to a scorching 123 F, beating out a daily record high of 120 set in 1994.
The next day, temperatures reached the highest daily maximum in over a century, with the 122 F reading beating a daily record of 121 F in 1921. Although an impressive number, the all-time high in Death Valley still stands at a whopping 134 F. Palm Springs, California, was hit hard with heat Saturday as well, with a 114 F high tying a daily record set in 1940 and 2019.
The temperature gauge at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center in Death Valley. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Heat spread even farther east Saturday, giving Denver a 100-degree day that tied a daily record set in 2013 and breaking other records throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Heat waves such as the one gripping the southwest bring several concerns, including when overnight conditions don't bring relief to residents per usual.
"The overnight hours, when temperatures are expected to drop to the daily minimum, can become a secret danger to residents during a heat wave," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyssa Smithmyer said. "When the air temperatures remain at elevated levels as people go to sleep, additional strain to the heart can occur as the body tries to regulate the internal temperature."
Thankfully for the region's residents, a southward shift in the jet stream is due to allow cooler air to sink into portions of the Southwest, dropping temperatures to below-average levels by Tuesday in places such as Nevada, Utah and Northern California.
One state that will have to endure prolonged heat is the Lone Star State, beleaguered by sizzling conditions in areas such as San Antonio. Temperatures in the city have been anywhere between 5 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit above normal since June 1. The beginning of the week brought back-to-back readings of 104 F on Monday and Tuesday, both setting daily records. Friday kept temperatures in the 100-degree range, breaking a daily record set in 2012 with a reading of 101 F.
A trip up I-35 from San Antonio, the city of Austin has also been afflicted by the heat wave, breaking a record high on Saturday with a 102-degree reading, beating the old record of 101 set in 2012.
Going farther north, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex became a victim of the scorching conditions, going up to 103 F Saturday in Dallas. The first triple-digit degree day of the year for Dallas, which is July 1 on average, became the earliest date the city reached 100 degrees since 2010.
Health impacts due to the heat have become significant for some in the state, with MedStar Mobile Healthcare in Fort Worth reporting six heat-related 911 calls received last Tuesday, with at least three people requiring hospitalization. AccuWeather forecasters state that Texans, and others in affected areas, should continue to hydrate and limit time spent outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Texans are likely to feel the heat through the middle of this coming week.
Want next-level safety, ad-free? Unlock advanced, hyperlocal severe weather alerts when you subscribe to Premium+ on the AccuWeather app. AccuWeather Alerts™ are prompted by our expert meteorologists who monitor and analyze dangerous weather risks 24/7 to keep you and your family safer.