Western states facing more blistering heat, fire danger

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The low temperature overnight in Death Valley National Park in California was 102 degrees. That was a significant cool down from the mind-boggling 130 degrees measured there Friday.

The National Weather Service predicts the temp will climb near 130 again Saturday as oppressive heat again envelopes California and neighboring states for another of the multi-day heat waves that are becoming one of the defining features of Summer 2021.

In Death Valley, the heat wave threatens the 108-year-old record of 134 degrees, the highest reliably measured temperature ever recorded. The heat wave will bake much of the West Coast.

Forecasters have excessive heat warnings up from eastern Washington state to parts of New Mexico. Temperatures are expected to soar to 100 degrees or higher in parts of eight states, with 115-120 degrees forecast for significant portions of California and Arizona.

“Numerous daily high temperature records could be in jeopardy of being broken, particularly for California and Nevada,” the National Weather Service said. In some areas, particularly the Pacific Northwest, the extreme heat this summer has been deadly. Last month’s “mega heat dome” killed 116 people in Oregon alone.

The situation is elevating already dangerous conditions and helping wildfires spread and expand in the bone-dry region, which in addition to the oppressive heat is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades.

In Northern California near the Nevada border, two lightning-caused fires merged Friday, prompting authorities to evacuate a border-area community while the nearby mountaintops were in flames, the Associated Press reported.

Other fires were burning in Oregon, Arizona and Idaho, and the Weather Service had “red flag” warnings up across most of the region as the searing heat increased the danger of fire.

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