A punishing heat wave hits the West and Southwest U.S.

A record-breaking heat wave is hitting the Western and Southwest United States, with millions of Americans expected to experience extreme temperatures over the coming days.

Heat wave details: About one-third of Americans are facing excessive heat warnings, watches, or advisories as a heat dome expands over Texas, California, Nevada, and Arizona.
* The peak of the heat is expected on Sunday in these states, with desert temperatures potentially reaching near 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
* This is not a typical heatwave due to its long duration, extreme daytime temperatures, and warm nights.

Emergent responses: Across the U.S., local public health officials are advising residents to seek cool shelter and to check up on neighbors.
* Much of the focus is on cities like Las Vegas, which could tie its all-time record high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit.
* The ongoing intense heat in Phoenix is predicted to break its longest recorded stretch of 110-degree or higher heat.

Health concerns & fatalities: Increased hospital rates and fatalities are being reported as a result of the heatwave.
* Local health officials in Las Vegas have registered at least seven heat-related deaths this year and an uptick in hospital arrivals due to dehydration.
* In Phoenix, at least 12 heat-related deaths have been reported so far this year.

Causative factors: The current heatwave has been attributed to several climatic factors, primarily the recent arrival of El Niño, a natural climate pattern that brings warmer global temperatures.
* El Niño exacerbates the effects of climate change, leading to warmer temperatures.
* The heat dome phenomenon, where high atmospheric pressure traps hot ocean air, is another factor contributing to the heatwave. Climate change can amplify the frequency and intensity of heat domes.

View original article on NPR

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