Phoenix sweltered through its 31st straight day of at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and other parts of the country battled record temperatures Sunday after a week in which significant portions of the U.S. population experienced.
The National Weather Service said Phoenix climbed to a high of 111 degrees before the day was over
July has been so steamy so far that scientists have calculated that it will be the oneand probably the hottest human civilization has seen. The World Meteorological Organization and the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced on Thursday that July was more than a record.
The historic heat began to blast the lower southwestern United States in late June, stretching from Texas across New Mexico and Arizona and into the California desert.
On Sunday, a massive wildfire burning out of control in California’s Mojave National Preserve spread quickly under erratic winds, as firefighters reported progress against another large blaze to the south that prompted evacuations.
The York Fire, which broke out Friday near the remote Caruthers Canyon area of the reservation, sent up a huge plume of smoke that was visible nearly 100 miles away across the state line in Nevada.
Flames 20 feet high in some places have charred more than 110 square miles of desert scrub, juniper and Joshua tree forest, according to a Sunday update.
“The dry fuel acts as a ready source of ignition and when paired with these weather conditions resulted in long distance fire and high flames leading to extreme fire behavior,” authorities said. No structures were threatened, but there was no containment either.
To the southwest, the Bonny Fire was contained to about 3.4 square kilometers in rugged hills in Riverside County. More than 1,300 people were ordered to evacuate their homes Saturday near the remote community of Aguanga, California.
In Washington state, a raging wildfire jumped international lines into British Columbia. So far, hundreds of fires across Canada have burned a landmass the size of Cuba.
Triple-digit heat was expected in parts of the central San Joaquin Valley for Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
And in Burbank, California, about 10 miles north of Los Angeles, the summer heat may have been to blame for some unusual behavior in the animal kingdom: Police in the city responded to a report of a bear looking in a residential neighborhood and found the animal sitting in a jacuzzi behind one of the homes.
At the Los Angeles Zoo, the animals are fed refrigerated meals to try to keep them cool. Chimpanzees get meat pop while sitting under water mist systems. Meerkats get “mouse cubes” while otters stay in the water and are fed frozen fish.
Animal curator Beth Schaeffer said zoo staff are looking for differences in behavior, sleeping and eating patterns.
As climate change brings hotter and longer heat waves, record temperatures across the United States have killed dozens of people, with the poorest Americans suffering the most. Air conditioning, once a luxury, is now a matter of survival.
Last year, all 86 heat-related deaths were indoors in uncooled environments.
“To put it quite simply: Heat kills,” said Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington professor who researches heat and health. “When the heat wave starts, the mortality starts in about 24 hours.”
It’s the poorest and people of color, from Kansas City to Detroit to New York City and beyond, who are far more likely to face grueling heat without air conditioning, according to a Boston University analysis of 115 U.S. metro areas.
In Denver, 90-degree days turned into long nights for Amanda Morian, a mom who doesn’t have air conditioning.
“I can’t swaddle him at night because it’s just too much to have too many layers on him,” she told CBS News.
Back in Phoenix, a little relief may be on the way as expected seasonal thunderstorms could lower temperatures Monday and Tuesday.
“It should be around 108 degrees, so we break that 110 streak,” meteorologist Tom Frieders said. “Increasing cloud cover will put temperatures on a downward trend.”
However, the relief may be short-lived. Temperatures are expected to creep back to 110 F (43.3 C) on Wednesday with temperatures of 115 F (46.1 C) by the end of the week.
Phoenix also sweated through a record 16 consecutive nights where the low temperature did not dip below 90 F (32.2 C), making it difficult for people to cool off after sunset.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas continues to flirt with its hottest July on record. The city is nearing its 2010 record for average high and low each day in July, which stands at 96.2 F (35.5 C).
The extreme heat is also hitting the eastern United States as rising temperatures moved from the Midwest into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with some locations recording their hottest days so far this year.