Dozens of heat records could fall this weekend as an already intense heat wave in the Southwest reaches its boiling point, with temperatures nearing 130 degrees Fahrenheit in some locations.
At least 93 million people in the United States were under heat warnings and advisories Friday, spanning the West Coast all the way to South Florida. Conditions are expected to intensify over the weekend, with temperatures well into the triple digits expected across large portions of the country.
In its forecast discussion posted Friday morning, the National Weather Service warned that a “searing heat wave is set to engulf much of the West Coast, the Great Basin, and the Southwest.”
A heat dome parked over the Southwest has been baking the region for more than two weeks, but temperatures are expected to spike heading into the weekend.
On Saturday, parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, the interior of California and Texas will range from 105 to 115 F, while temperatures in desert locations across the region could exceed 120 F, according to the weather service.
Studies have shown that climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme heat events.
In California's Death Valley, temperatures are forecast to reach almost 130 F, which would place it among the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.
Arizona is also bracing for record heat this weekend. Phoenix, which has already sweltered through 13 consecutive days at or above 110 F, is forecast to see temperatures spike as high as 118 F over the weekend. On Tuesday, the city is poised to tie the current record set in 1974 of 18 consecutive days at or above 110 F, and is expected to continue on past the milestone.
Las Vegas, meanwhile, is forecast to reach 117 F on Sunday, which would tie the city’s record for hottest temperature.
Local officials urged people to take proper precautions to cope with the extreme heat, including staying hydrated, checking on heat-sensitive friends and family, and avoiding outdoor activities, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.
“This heatwave is NOT typical desert heat due to its long duration, extreme daytime temperatures, & warm nights. Everyone needs to take this heat seriously, including those who live in the desert,” representatives at the Las Vegas office of the weather service tweeted Thursday.
Hot and humid conditions will also envelop much of the South, stretching from Texas across the lower Mississippi Valley and into Florida. Heat index values — which represent the “feels like” temperatures when humidity and air temperatures are combined — are expected to be well into the triple digits across these regions, with some parts of Texas and Louisiana experiencing heat index values up to 115 F.
The weather service added that “morning lows across the southern tier of the U.S. will remain exceptionally warm, providing little in the way of relief to these affected regions.”
Meanwhile, most of southern Europe is also experiencing oppressively high heat and humidity.
Temperatures in the triple digits are forecast across parts of Spain, Italy and Greece, and heat is expected to build into next week.
In Athens, where temperatures soared to 104 F, Greek officials were forced to close the Acropolis between noon and 5 p.m., the hottest hours of the day, BBC News reported.
Dangerous heat waves are also gripping North Africa, China and Japan, in what has already been a hot summer across the Northern Hemisphere.