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U.S. likely to claim hottest place on Earth as heat tightens grip on more than 100 million

Dozens of daily heat records have been shattered, including several all-time records. Hundreds more could fall by the weekend.
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Death Valley, California, climbed to 124 degrees Tuesday, making it not only the hottest spot in the U.S. but also probably one of the hottest places in the world — if not the hottest.

Wednesday was forecast to get only hotter, with Death Valley predicted to soar to a blistering 128 degrees.

With temperatures rising to 10 to 30 degrees above average, dozens of records were demolished Tuesday across Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Nevada, Arizona and Southern California. Casper, Wyoming, broke its previous record high of 93 by a full 9 degrees. Many other Western cities had similar, even more extreme events: Billings, Montana, shattered its daily record by 10 degrees (new record: 108), and Chula Vista, California, smashed its record by a whopping 13 whole degrees (new record: 89).

All-time record temperatures were tied Tuesday in Billings at 108 degrees, Salt Lake City at 107 and Cheyenne, Wyoming, at 94. Records for the hottest temperatures for the month of June were set in other parts of Utah, where temperatures soared above 105.

On Wednesday, the widespread extreme heat continued to engulf nearly 40 million people who were under heat advisories, watches and warnings.

With the heat wave not expected to diminish until next week, more than 200 warm records could fall, including afternoon record highs and overnight lows that fail to cool down.

By the time it's all said and done, 110 million Americans will have experienced highs above 90 degrees and over 20 million over 100 degrees.

Concerns are growing as the high heat, low humidity and gusty winds overlap to produce ideal wildfire conditions.

Massive evaporation from key reservoirs, lakes and rivers caused by the unrelenting heat has resulted in dwindling water and energy supplies, spurring power grid operators in several states to implore residents to reduce their consumption.

Meteorologists urged everyone under the heat alerts to stay indoors, seek shade, drink water and check on neighbors who may need relief from the dangerous heat.

Extreme heat has one of the strongest correlations to the warming temperatures due to climate change. Heat waves are lasting longer and becoming more intense, and wildfire seasons across the West are burning more acres.