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Dangerous heat wave to bake West, potentially break records

The 116-degree high at Las Vegas' airport, which resulted in flights delayed and canceled, was one shy of the city's all-time record of 117.

Heat wave strikes the west

July 10, 202101:52

As heat set in across the West from what could be a record-breaking heatwave, some flights at Las Vegas' airport were canceled due to high temperatures Friday.

"It's always hot, but it's not always this hot," said Clay Morgan, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, who called the heat unusual and approaching all-time records.

The city could match an all-time record high of 117 degrees this weekend, he said. That's only happened four times, most recently in 2017.

The temperature climbed to within one degree Friday, when it was 116 degrees at McCarran International Airport. There were flight delays and some cancellations at the airport because of the heat.

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented a traffic management program due to heat and wind, the agency and the airport said.

Southwest Airlines told frustrated passengers on Twitter that a number of its flights out of Las Vegas were canceled, citing extreme heat. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night about how many were affected.

Excessive heat warnings covered a large swath of the Western United States on Friday, from California and southeast Oregon into parts of Utah and Arizona.

There's a large dome of high pressure centered over the region causing very hot temperatures in many parts of the West, Morgan of the weather service said.

The airport in Grand Junction, Colorado, saw an all-time record high of 107 degrees, breaking the previous record of 106 from 2005.

Last month was the hottest June on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said.

And the heat in the Pacific Northwest was deadly. Eighty-three people had died due to heat in Oregon as of Friday, the Oregon medical examiner's office said in a statement released by state police, and 32 other deaths were under investigation.

In the face of the weekend's high heat, California officials were urging residents to conserve power and cooling centers around the state were open.

A statewide "flex alert," which is a call for electricity conservation, was extended to Saturday in the face of high heat and a wildfire in southeastern Oregon threatening transmission lines.

It was 100 degrees in Sacramento just after noon Friday. The Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services warned of dangerous heat this weekend.

On Friday, Death Valley recorded a high temperature of 130 degrees, but the reading is considered preliminary and not yet validated, the weather service said. But what was not in doubt was the danger.

"Heed these warnings," it tweeted in all capital letters. "Do not put yourself, nor first responders in danger this weekend!

Death Valley holds the world record for the hottest temperature on earth ever recorded, which was 134 degrees on July 10, 1913.

The world's all-time heat record had been considered to be 136 degrees in Libya on Sept. 13, 1922. But the World Meteorological Organization conducted an investigation and invalidated that record in 2012, with a panel concluding it was because of an error in recording the temperature.