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Heat wave: Millions in the U.S., Europe and beyond face record temperatures this week

The South continues to swelter under a relentless heat wave, while extremely hot weather and flooding hit Asia and Europe.

Millions of people across the South are sweltering under a relentless heat wave, with more records expected to be broken this week as countries around the world also grapple with rocketing temperatures.

The National Weather Service warned of "record-breaking heat" expected in parts of the U.S., including the Four Corners states, and from Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley and South Florida.

The U.S. is far from alone in facing the threat of severe heat, however, with countries around the world, including across Europe and Asia, hit with major heat waves that similarly threaten to shatter records. China's western region of Xinjiang recorded the country's hottest-ever temperature.

What to know about the severe heat

  • Some parts of the Southwest could approach or reach heat records, the weather service said.
  • Furnace Creek in California's Death Valley broke a daily record for heat, as yesterday became the hottest July 16 on record at 128 degrees Fahrenheit, the weather service said.
  • Those affected by the heat have been warned to take it seriously and "avoid time outdoors."
  • Europe could shatter temperature records, while parts of Asia are grappling with extreme heat and deadly floods.

Death Valley hottest in contiguous U.S. today, at 126 degrees

The hottest recorded temperature in the U.S. today was 126 degrees in Death Valley in California, according to the National Weather Service.

The coldest for the day was 33 degrees in Peter Sinks, Utah. That area is known for cold temperatures because it’s a bowl with no outlet for cold air to escape, NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City has reported.

Death Valley is also known for its heat, but it doesn’t always record the hottest high.

On Sunday, the hottest temperature was in Baker, California, at 129 degrees, according to the weather service.

Heat isn't going anywhere any time soon for South, Southwest

Millions of people living in the U.S. under a blistering heat wave shouldn’t expect any relief soon. High temperatures in the Southwest will last into next week, the National Weather Service said.

More scorching heat ahead

More than 70 million people in the U.S. remain under heat alerts this afternoon from California to South Florida. The prolonged heat wave in the Southwest will continue through the week, with widespread temperatures in the triple digits throughout the region, according to the National Weather Service.

Heat will build along the Gulf Coast and in South Florida this week, with humidity causing heat index values — or what conditions “feel like” when humidity and air temperatures are combined — to reach up to 115 degrees in some places.

Conditions are also expected to stay hotter than usual overnight, according to the weather service.

"Daily low temperatures will remain quite warm, breaking record warm daily minimums in some areas, allowing for minimal relief from the heat overnight," the NWS said this afternoon in an updated forecast.

Phoenix ties record for consecutive 110 F days, on track to break it tomorrow

Oregon fire took off yesterday, wind blew embers a quarter mile away

A fire in southwest Oregon that grew rapidly yesterday has the potential to be one of the first major, widespread blazes in the U.S. this season.  

The Flat Fire, west of Grants Pass, Oregon, was first reported Saturday and took off during high winds yesterday, apparently crossing a river. 

“Fire behavior was extreme with ¼ mile spotting and fire spread on both sides of the Illinois River,” a Forest Service update said. Spotting describes when fires spew embers aloft and over long distances, sparking new flames in the direction of the wind. “Weather conditions and terrain are not favorable and rapid growth is expected over the next few days.” 

The fire was torching trees in thick timber and had spread to an estimated 4,000 acres by this morning, according to an incident briefing. The forest service said it was committed to protecting the small nearby communities of Oak Flat and Agness.  

The weather service was forecasting gusts of wind up to 25 mph for the region today and said developing fires would “spread rapidly.” A red flag warning — indicating dangerous fire weather — remained in effect for the area tomorrow morning for locations where the elevation was 2,000 feet or above.   

Tucson sizzles to July heat record

Tucson, Arizona, has recorded six days this month with temperatures at or above 110 F, setting a record for the city, according to Mallory Schnell, a meteorologist for KOLD News 13. The previous record of five July days was set in 1989.

A heat dome that is parked over the Southwest is expected to keep temperatures high across most of Arizona this week. Temperatures in Tucson are forecast to remain near 110 F through Friday.

SAG-AFTRA picket to end early due to heat

The union that represents striking actors said it would cut short its planned picket today because of the heat in Los Angeles.

"Because of extreme heat in LA, Disney and Warner Bros pickets end at NOON today," it tweeted. "Stay hydrated!"

The Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, better known as SAG-AFTRA, went on strike last week. Temperatures in Los Angeles haven't been as high as in other parts of inland California, but parts of the city and county remain under excessive heat warnings and heat advisories.

Wildfire smoke hurts air quality in Montana, Indiana and Ohio

Canadian wildfire smoke cast a haze over the Great Plains and Midwestern states today, with communities in South Dakota, Montana, Indiana and Ohio reporting “unhealthy” air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Unhealthy” air quality means that wildfire smoke is thick enough to cause health effects for the general public. 

Canada’s wildfires will burn through the summer and will occasionally send intermittent blasts of smoke into the northern U.S

“Canadian wildfire smoke will remain in the picture through Tuesday,” reads a weather service text forecast published this morning. “Smoke concentrations should diminish over parts of the Heartland on Tuesday, but may still cause poor air quality along the East Coast.”

Yosemite National Park in California features the worst air quality in the U.S., according to the EPA measurements. The Pika fire, which was ignited by lightning last month, has grown up to 818 acres and is sending smoke into the park. 

New Mexico senator calls for urgency on climate action amid heat wave

Wildfires rage near Greek capital, houses damaged

Villagers were ordered to leave their homes and hundreds of children were evacuated from a summer camp as two separate wildfires fanned by strong winds damaged houses to the southeast and west of Athens today, authorities said.

The blaze that broke out in the village of Kouvaras, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) from the Greek capital, spread fast amid erratic winds, a Greek fire service official said.

A car burned in a wildfire in Loutraki, some 50 miles west of Athens, Greece, Monday, July 17, 2023.
A burned that was is the path of a wildfire Monday in Loutraki, some 50 miles west of Athens. Petros Giannakouris / AP

About 200 firefighters with the help of around 20 soldiers, 68 engines and 16 aircraft were trying to control the flames, the official added.

Texas power demand to break more records in this week's heat

Demand for power in Texas will likely hit more record highs this week as homes and business keep their air conditioners cranked up to escape another heat wave.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load, has said it has enough resources available to meet the soaring demand.

Texas residents have worried about extreme weather since a deadly storm in February 2021 left millions without power, water and heat for days as ERCOT struggled to prevent a grid collapse after the closure of an unusually large amount of generation.

Mediterranean heat wave set to intensify: World Meteorological Organization

The World Meteorological Organization said today that a heat wave affecting the Mediterranean is forecast to intensify by midweek and is likely  to continue into August in some places.

New records have already been set for specific weather stations in parts of the Northern Hemisphere and new national  records may also be set, the U.N. agency’s website said.

“The heat is forecast to intensify by the middle of the week  (19 July) in parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey,” it said. “A further continuation into August is  likely.” 

Phoenix set to tie heat record set in 1974

There’s little relief ahead for Arizona this week, as temperatures remain well into the triple digits across much of the state.

Phoenix is set to tie a record set in 1974 of 18 consecutive days at or above 110 F today and will likely continue past that milestone. Temperatures in the city this week are expected to range from 112 to 118 F, according to the Phoenix office of the weather service.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect through Friday, it said.

2 children missing after Pennsylvania flash floods

Authorities are searching for two young children who went missing after flash floods in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, killed their mother and at least four other people Saturday.

Upper Makefield Fire Company Chief Tim Brewer said today that a number of search teams were assisting in the effort to find the two children, including underwater and air assets, along with canine units.

Heavy rains flooded the village of Washington Crossing in Upper Makefield Township on Saturday afternoon. As much as 7 inches of rain hit the area alongside the Delaware River in less than an hour, he previously said.

At least 10 people were rescued from or near vehicles abandoned close to an adjacent creek along Washington County Road. The storm’s death toll rose to five, with the latest confirmed victim described as a mother from Charleston, South Carolina, who was visiting Pennsylvania, Brewer had said.

History-making heat set to spread

The history-making heat wave that baked southern U.S. communities with triple-digit temperatures over the weekend will offer little relief this week and could spread dangerous conditions farther across the Sun Belt. 

The center of the heat wave is expected to spread eastward today, with extreme temperatures continuing through at least next weekend, according to the weather service.

Heat indexes this week are expected to spike to dangerous levels along the more humid Gulf Coast and in the Southeast. Heat warnings were in the forecast for communities in the Pacific Northwest to the tip of Florida. 

Heatwave in the U.S.
Searing heat in Phoenix, Los Angeles and California's Death Valley.Getty Images; AP; AFP

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Heavy rains kill 40 in South Korea, including 13 trapped in tunnel

SEOUL, South Korea — At least 40 people have died in South Korea since torrential rains began Thursday, including 13 who were trapped in their vehicles in a flooded underpass.

The underpass in the central city of Cheongju, about 70 miles south of Seoul, was flooded Saturday when a nearby river overflowed and a levee collapsed, trapping more than a dozen vehicles, including a bus. Thirty-four others are injured and nine are still missing nationwide, the Interior Ministry said.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol blamed poor disaster response and said the country had to completely change its approach as extreme weather becomes more common.

“We must accept climate change is happening, and deal with it,” he said at an emergency response meeting today. After the meeting, he visited the province of North Gyeongsang, where 19 people died mostly because of massive landslides. More rain is expected in the coming days.

Heat warnings and deadly flooding in Japan

TOKYO — Japan’s weather agency today issued heatstroke alerts for 32 of its 47 prefectures, including the capital, Tokyo, as the country ended a sweltering three-day holiday weekend.

As of this afternoon, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, temperatures exceeded 95 F, which the Japan Meteorological Agency classifies as “extremely hot,” in 190 locations out of 914, the highest number this year. The hottest temperature reported today was more than 102 F in Toyota City in the central prefecture of Aichi, the newspaper reported.

Scorching heat across the Northern Hemisphere threatened to break records and whip up wildfires on July 17 as the dire consequences of global warming take shape. Japan's national broadcaster warned viewers that the heat was at life-threatening levels, as temperatures soared to nearly 40 C (104 F) in some places, including the capital Tokyo.
Residents shelter from the midday sun in Tokyo today. Richard A. Brooks / AFP - Getty Images

The Japanese broadcaster YTV reported that in the city of Kyoto, where the temperature reached almost 100 degrees today as the annual Gion Festival was underway, nine attendees between the ages of 8 and 84 were taken to the hospital for possible heat stroke.

Japan has also been struggling with flooding and torrential rains. In northern Akita prefecture, according to the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, 14 rivers had overflowed as of this afternoon, affecting 517 homes in 13 cities, towns and villages. 

Japan flooding
A flooded street in the northern prefecture of Akita on Saturday.AP

Also in Akita prefecture, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that a man in his 60s was found dead yesterday inside a car that had been submerged in a rice paddy. Local police said they had received an emergency call from him the day before saying that he had driven into a flooded area and was worried that the car would be submerged, but that they were unable to locate him in the dark. They discovered his car the next morning when the water had receded.

His death came less than a week after at least seven people were killed in torrential rains in southwest Japan, according to The Japan Times.

Man dies in Arizona after having to walk in heat due to flat bike tire

A man in Arizona died after walked in the heat when the bicycle he was riding got a flat tire, authorities said.

The Buckeye Police Department said they had received a report yesterday afternoon from a woman who said her husband had gone out for a bike ride, but did not arrive at their agreed meeting place on time.

She said her husband, who was in his 70s, called her earlier in the day to say his bike had gotten a flat tire in a desert area and that he was attempting to walk to meet her so she could pick him up.

Authorities began searching for the man and eventually found him dead in the desert. They said his death appeared to be a heat-related, but added that the local medical examiner's office had yet to issue an official cause.

China records its hottest temperature

BEIJING — Temperatures in China’s arid northwest reached a high of almost 126 F yesterday, setting a national record.

The temperature in Sanbao, a township in the region of Xinjiang, surpassed the previous local and national record of about 123 degrees set in 2017, according to weather.com.cn, a website affiliated with the China Meteorological Administration.

Scorching heat has swept large parts of China this summer, especially in the north, where cities such as Beijing are enduring one of the hottest summers in more than 60 years of record-keeping. The temperature in the capital soared over 104 degrees for three days straight in June, and the number of days that month with temperatures above 95 degrees was 13.2 out of 30, the highest in recorded history.

The extreme heat, which is expected to continue, has affected more than 900 million people in China, the National Climate Center told the state-run China News Service last week. It is straining the power supply in heat-stricken regions, and the government has warned against unnecessary outdoor activities as the number of heatstroke- and other heat-related deaths increase. 

Heat wave in U.S. to 'expand,' forecasters say

The upper-level ridge of high pressure responsible for the heat wave in the West is expected to begin to move northwest, while also expanding across the Southwest and Gulf Coast states into the midweek, the weather service said.

Record-breaking heat is expected in the Four Corners states, and from Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley and South Florida, it said.

In the desert Southwest and parts of Texas, daytime highs are expected to sit in the triple digits through to the midweek. Meanwhile, further east, the Gulf Coast and mid-South are expected to see daytime highs in the mid-upper 90s, with "sweltering heat indices between 105-115F," the weather service said.

"There remain an expansive area of Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories in the Southwest, Southern Plains, western Gulf Coast, and even parts of South Florida where exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures are playing a role in the prolonged stretch of sultry heat," it said.

As Europe bakes, Italy may see potentially record-breaking temps

Countries across Europe are sweltering under a major heat wave, with potentially record-breaking temperatures for the continent in Italy, forecasters said.

Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heat wave with temperatures expected to climb as high as 118.4 F on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, bringing possibly the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe, the European Space Agency said.

 A substantial increase of temperatures is expected in Italy in the next few days.
People drink from a fountain at St. Peter's square in Vatican City yesterday. Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images

The highest temperature in European history was seen Aug. 11, 2021, when 48.8°C was recorded in Floridia, an Italian town in the Sicilian province of Syracuse. However, that record could be broken again this week, the space agency said.

Italy yesterday issued hot weather red alerts for 16 cities, with meteorologists warning temperatures will hit record highs across southern Europe in the days ahead.

Photo: Temperatures soar at Death Valley National Park

A woman stands near an unofficial heat reading at Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley, Calif., yesterday.

Heatwave Death Valley
Ronda Churchill / AFP - Getty Images

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry in Beijing for talks

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in Beijing this week to discuss how the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, can work together to combat climate change.

Kerry arrived yesterday, as temperatures in China’s arid northwest reached a record of almost 126 F.

“In the next three days we hope we can begin taking some big steps that will send a signal to the world about the serious purpose of China and the United States to address a common risk, threat, challenge to all of humanity created by humans themselves,” he said today before meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, according to Reuters.

The meetings have no set agenda, but Kerry and Xie are expected to discuss efforts to reduce emissions from methane and coal-fired power plants, as well as preparations for the COP28 global climate talks in Dubai at the end of this year.

Kerry’s trip to China, his third as U.S. climate envoy, is the first formal top-level climate diplomacy between the two countries since China suspended talks last year after Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker at the time, visited Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as its territory. Kerry is the third U.S. official to visit China in recent weeks as the two countries try to improve ties.

Relentless heat in the U.S. and abroad

Parts of the southern U.S. continue to grapple with a relentless heat wave, with more records expected to be broken through tomorrow, forecasters said.

A man cools off amid searing heat on July 16, 2023 in Phoenix.
A person cools off during a heat wave in Phoenix yesterday.Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Record-breaking heat is expected into the start of the week in the Four Corners states, and from Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley and South Florida, the weather service warned in an early morning update.

The U.S. is far from alone in contending with severe heat, however, with countries around the world, including across Europe and Asia, also facing potentially record-breaking temperatures amid severe heat waves.