Story at a glance
- The National Weather Service has warned that a heat wave with temperatures into the triple digits is headed to the West and Southwestern U.S.
- Multiple states have opened cooling centers for vulnerable residents.
A large-scale heat wave is expected to engulf Western states like California and Arizona over the holiday weekend, with meteorologists forecasting triple-digit temperatures.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and public health restrictions surrounding it, refuge may be tough to come by for some residents.
“It’s going to be downright brutal the next few days,” John Feerick, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, told USAToday.
The anticipated scorching weather comes at an inconvenient time for some states, outside of the coronavirus pandemic. California is still working to contain a devastating series of wildfires that have collectively burnt millions of acres near the state’s Bay Area, which, compounded by hot temperatures, put a strain on the state’s electricity supply, resulting in widespread blackouts.
Surrounding states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada will also suffer uncomfortably high temperatures in the coming days. In response to these forecasts, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued an Excessive Heat Warning across most of California and into parts of Utah and Nevada.
“Another dangerous heat wave will impact the Western U.S. through the Labor Day holiday weekend,” officials at the NWS wrote. “In some cases, high temperatures are forecast to be 20 to 25 degrees above normal and dozens of daily record high temperatures may be tied or broken.”
In response to the forthcoming heat wave, California has designated multiple areas as “cooling centers” across southern parts of the state. Due to the continued COVID-19 spread, masks will be required and some may conduct health screenings upon entrance.
Arizona also opened cooling centers in Tucson and Phoenix for vulnerable populations, like people experiencing homelessness.
“Temperatures this high, and this widespread, are rarely ever seen in this area. All daytime outdoor activities should [be] limited or canceled,” forecasters warned in The Washington Post. “Those without air conditioning should make preparations now to stay cool. Extreme stress on our power infrastructure may lead to power outages.”