Heat wave spreads from Southwest; Las Vegas, Phoenix hit record highs

More than 70 million people are being warned of sweltering temperatures Saturday as an early-season heat wave hits a swath of the southern U.S. from California to Arkansas.

On Saturday, National Weather Service stations in Phoenix, Houston, Albuquerque and San Antonio warned of extreme heat exceeding 110 degrees in some areas. Nearly all of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas are under heat advisories as the heatwave spreads north and east, the National Weather Service reports.

On Friday, Phoenix and Las Vegas reported record daily highs, according to the National Weather Service. Arizona’s capital city  reached 113 degrees, surpassing  its previous record of 111 set in 1978. Las Vegas hit 109, breaking the previous record, set in 1996, by 1 degree. 

And, in New Mexico, Albuquerque reached 100 degrees for the first time this year.

“It’s really the first big heat wave of the season,” NWS forecaster Bryan Jackson told USA TODAY on Friday. “It catches people off-guard.”

RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES?:How to stay safe during a heat wave

AccuWeather forecasters and NWS stations across the Southwest have warned that temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees above normal averages this weekend.

Southwestern Arizona and southeastern California are expected to have highs of 110 to 115 degrees through the weekend. It’ll be hottest in Death Valley, where it’s expected to top 120 degrees for the first time this year.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE WEATHER?  Subscribe to USA TODAY’s free weekly Climate Point newsletter

WHAT TO EXPECT:Phoenix faces dangerously high temperatures this weekend

To stay safe, the NWS recommends people stay indoors, seek out air-conditioned buildings, drink water, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing, and check-in with others.

“Heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. This is something to watch out for,” Jackson said. “So, just a repeat of taking care of yourself and your neighbors.”

High pressure is to blame for the weekend heat wave, forecasters say

“This is a significant heat wave, particularly early in the season for June, that works its way across the country over the next five days,” Jackson said.

Amid heat waves, experts advise residents to pay attention to the heat index in their areas, avoid strenuous outdoor activities, go to a public building like a library if air-conditioning isn’t available at home, drink plenty of water, wear light and lightly colored clothing and sunscreen, and understand the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

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