Publication Date June 11, 2019 | USA Today

120 degrees in the shade?! Record-breaking, 'dangerous' heat wave bakes western U.S.

United States
The sun sinks behind the downtown Phoenix skyline. Photo: Rob Schumacher, The Republic
The sun sinks behind the downtown Phoenix skyline. Photo: Rob Schumacher, The Republic

Folks in the western U.S. are sweltering under an unusually intense June heat wave, with temperatures soaring to near-record highs all the way from Oregon to Arizona.

Heat warnings and/or advisories were in effect Tuesday for a number of major metro areas in the West, including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and San Francisco. 


On Monday, normally mild San Francisco soared to a brutal high of 100 degrees, the first time that city has ever hit the century mark in June. The heat warped tracks on the city's transit lines, the Weather Channel said, and led to tens of thousands of power outages.

Monday was also only the seventh time on record the city reached 100 degrees, AccuWeather said.  More record heat was forecast for Tuesday, where the average high is in the upper 60s.


In Oregon, the unusual hot weather brings up many concerns, but one of the most acute is people swimming in rivers and creeks still cold from snowmelt, experts warned.

“When you have temperatures this hot this early, what happens is people jump in rivers and creeks that are probably still around 50 degrees," said meteorologist Jon Bonk of the Portland office of the National Weather Service. "The drop from 90 degrees air temperature to 50 degrees in the water causes a physical response – sometimes shock or a big intake of water or air, and that can be dangerous."

Fires are also a concern in the West: "The hot and mostly dry weather will increase the risk for wildfires," said AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rathbun.