Dangerously High Temperatures in West Expected to Threaten Lives, Power Grids


Dangerously high temperatures are gripping the West with more to life- and grid-threatening heat expected in the coming days.

Phoenix hit at least 113°F over the weekend and temperatures from the Southwest to Northern Rockies are forecast to be 15-25°F above average. Texas officials are already asking customers to conserve electricity as the extreme heat, combined with multiple gas and coal plants broken down and offline for repairs, have created an unusual early electricity shortfall just months after widespread blackouts lead to hundreds of deaths across the state.

Climate change makes extreme heat and heat waves longer, more frequent, and more intense. Combined with the current climate-fueled megadrought, wildfire danger is also exceptionally high. Nearly 40 million people as far north as the Canadian Border could see triple-digit highs this week, and some parts of Arizona, including Phoenix, could see overnight lows in the 90s, which are often more dangerous because the human body is deprived of its nocturnal cool-down period and and cooling shelters for those without air-conditioners are closed. The heat will also be especially deadly for those who work outside, like farmworkers, and cannot escape the heat without risking loss of income.

As reported by Earther:

Extreme heat is becoming all the more common due to the climate crisis. It isn’t just uncomfortable, it can also be deadly. Research shows that high temperatures are the deadliest form of extreme weather on the planet due to increased threat of conditions like heat stress, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Older people are especially at risk, and the National Weather Service underscored that in its warnings this week referring to the heat as “DEADLY” in all caps.

For a deeper dive:

The Washington Post, Earther, NBC, Axios; Tex. gas & coal breakdowns: Forbes, Bloomberg; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Drought, Wildfires

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