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Las Vegas hits a new record high of 120 degrees Fahrenheit

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A heat wave that started last week continues to bake the Western U.S. with dangerously hot temperatures in states including Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada and Arizona. Over the July Fourth weekend, daily temperature records were broken in Phoenix, in Medford, Ore. And then yesterday, Las Vegas broke its all-time high temperature record, 120 degrees Fahrenheit. KNPR's Anne Davis joins me now from Las Vegas. Hey, Anne.

ANNE DAVIS, BYLINE: Hi. Thanks for having me.

KELLY: Hi. So things are hot, really hot in Las Vegas. Paint us a picture of just what that feels like as people go about their day.

DAVIS: Yeah, things are indeed extremely hot here. So when you go to open your car door, you have to really be careful because the handle is so hot, it can be painful to touch. Also, lots of people are limited in when they can walk their dogs because it's just so hot it would hurt their feet. So they have to kind of strategize and take them out early at night or early in the morning. The National Weather Service even posted a photo yesterday on X of a bunch of crayons sitting out on the sidewalk just fully melting in this heat.

KELLY: OK. Yes, that definitely paints a picture, although I will say this is not foreign territory for Vegas, right? Las Vegas is known for having really hot summers.

DAVIS: Well, yeah. That's true, though, as you said, the city did hit an all-time high yesterday of 120 degrees. And that goes against the past previous record of 117 by three whole degrees, which is a lot. And, of course, this is one of the worst heat waves that Las Vegas has really ever seen, according to the National Weather Service.

And one of the things that makes it so bad is how long it is dragging on. So things ramped up last Wednesday, when temperatures went above 110 degrees, and they stayed above 110 degrees every single day since and really aren't showing any signs of letting up. But this is also coming on the heels of a really, really hot June. Last month there were only two days that didn't reach triple digits, and it was Las Vegas' hottest June on record.

And so also, context is worth mentioning here, of course - is that human-caused climate change is fueling longer and more intense heat waves. And it's just making dangerously high temperatures, like the ones we're seeing in Las Vegas, much more likely.

KELLY: Speaking of dangerous, heat at that level is clearly dangerous to people if they're outside for a long time. What are you hearing from officials about the impact this is having on folks?

DAVIS: Well, thankfully, a lot of people in Las Vegas do have AC. But Clark County, which runs cooling stations for people who need it, say they've got about 200 people using 39 cooling stations every single day around the valley. And, you know, heat like this really can affect people's health. They can get dehydrated. They can have heat stroke, even get pavement burns.

Back in June, Las Vegas' largest hospital, University Medical Center, saw 23 pavement burns related to the heat. They say it's too early to say how many they've seen during this heat wave. But since they run that analysis after the heat wave is over, it's hard to imagine there won't be some. And the Southern Nevada Health District, which is the public health entity for this part of Nevada, says they're definitely expecting to see more heat-related illnesses in the coming week.

KELLY: Do we know - is there any break in sight? How much longer is this heat wave expected to continue?

DAVIS: Well, right now the forecast is that these dangerous temperatures could continue in Las Vegas all the way through the end of Friday. There's a chance they could let up this week, but we just don't know.

KELLY: KNPR's Anne Davis, thanks so much.

DAVIS: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIXSON SONG, "LA NOCTURNE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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