Death Valley could be set to hit Earth’s hottest-ever temperature as 111 million Americans are warned to stay indoors amid an extreme weather alert.
Huge swathes of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are under extreme heat warnings after experiencing consecutive days of temperatures above 90 degrees.
Warning the public to stay indoors, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin: “To underscore just how expansive this heat is, based off the current forecast approximately 27 million people across the Lower 48 will experience an air temperature or heat index above 110F over the next 7 days.
“It is imperative users take action to limit their exposure to the oppressive hot weather as it looks to stick around for the time being.”
In a separate bulletin about Death Valley, the NWS said: “Several days of extreme heat will result in a major concern for life-threatening heat illnesses for anyone outside for an extended period.
“Anyone without access to adequate indoor cooling will be especially vulnerable as overnight temperatures will provide very little, if any, overnight relief from the heat.”
The NWS believes Death Valley’s Furnace Creek could reach 131 degrees on Sunday, which would be the hottest temperature recorded on Earth.
The desert valley supposedly recorded 134 degrees in 1913 – but this has widely been contested by experts who believe it to be inaccurate.
Of the latest news, climate scientist Daniel Swain said on Twitter: “There’s a decent chance that Death Valley will see a high temperature this weekend between 130 and 132F, which (if it occurs) would either tie or break record for the hottest temperature reliably measured on Earth.”
Temperatures in Phoenix, America’s hottest large city, hit between 108 to 115 on Thursday and will reach as high as 111 to 119 over the weekend.
The city’s overnight low for July 12 hit a record high of 94 on Wednesday morning, meaning temperatures may not be falling enough to let people recover after dark.
Emergency crews were forced to set up over a dozen relief centers to offer visitors, residents and pets an escape from the deadly heat.
Heat tsar David Hondula, who oversees the heatwave response team in Phoenix, told CBS News: “From a public health perspective, the first thing we advise is pay attention to your body.
“People who are dying, getting sick from heat in the Phoenix area are our long-time residents, it’s not out-of-towners that account for the most cases.”
Forecasters in Phoenix said the long-duration heatwave is extremely dangerous for people’s health and could persist into next week as a high-pressure dome moves westerly from Texas into central California.
Arizona’s Maricopa County, where the city is based, has said so far this year there have been 12 confirmed heat-associated deaths going back to April, half of them people who were homeless. Another 55 deaths are under investigation.
There were 425 confirmed heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County last year, with more than half of these occurring in July. Eighty percent of the deaths occurred outside.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, temperatures hit 101 degrees on Thursday and on Saturday temperatures are expected to climb to 109 in inland areas of Southern California, including San Bernardino.
This weekend, Las Vegas could see temperatures reach between 116 and 118, the weather service said.
With no end in sight, this week El Paso, Texas, endured its 27th consecutive day of 100-plus degree temperatures on Wednesday.
The previous record for consecutive triple-digit highs was 23 days in 1994, when an all-time high of 114 was recorded.
NWS meteorologist Zak Aronson said: “It’s unprecedented. It’s never happened here before in recorded history.”
Fueling the current heat wave is the delayed arrival of this year’s monsoon rains.
The season officially begins on June 15 and can bring powerful storms with bursts of precipitation.
Follow our social media accounts here on facebook.com/ExpressUSNews and @expressusnews