Southwest celebrates first day of summer with heat wave

How hot is it in the West? Let us count the ways

How hot is it in the West? Let us count the ways

With temperatures approaching record highs this week in Phoenix, Arizona, American Airlines has had to cancel more than 40 flights in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor simply because the planes can not take off.

Major airlines delayed and cancelled flights out of Las Vegas and Phoenix airports as temperatures hit the high 40s, citing difficulty in operating aircraft in extreme heat - causing plenty of headaches for airlines and travellers alike.

Death Valley, California, reached 53 C Tuesday and Palm Springs hit 50 C, tying the temperature for the same day previous year.

At Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport, American Airlines cancelled 43 inbound and outbound flights during the peak-heat hours of 3 pm through 6 pm local time, after cancelling seven on Monday.

A construction worker climbs onto a roof at sunrise to avoid the heat, Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Phoenix.

Meteorologists said Tuesday's temperature in Phoenix topped out at 119 degrees, a mark that's only been matched or surpassed four other times in the city's recorded history.

Las Vegas also was baking.

American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said the smaller regional jets flown by its partners can't operate once the temperature hits 118.

Arizona is seeing the most stifling temperatures, but the wrath of the heat wave is being felt across Nevada and California as well. (Seven were canceled on Monday as well.) Regional jets can not take off in temperatures hotter than 117, reported CNN Money, which was the temperature Tuesday and the expected temperature for Wednesday as well. Today's heat wave is expected to break by Sunday, when the valley of the sun returns to a normal 105 degrees. The all-time high was 50 C on June 26, 1990.

Dr. Kevin Foster warned people to be extra careful around concrete, auto interiors and playground equipment, especially young children who have sensitive skin.

Arizona, essentially the bull's-eye for the high-pressure system that was covering much of the Southwest, also saw its capital hit 118 degrees by late Tuesday.

People in Phoenix were taking advantage of free elastic booties to put on their pets' paws so they did not burn on concrete and pavement.

A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that "around 30% of the world's population is now exposed to climatic conditions exceeding (a) deadly threshold for at least 20 days a year". She said she yells at people who walk their dogs without them in the afternoon heat.

It could be worse: Death Valley could see 124 degrees Tuesday. Tuesday was the city's fourth hottest day ever and if Wednesday reaches the expected 117 degrees, the two-day span will set two new records.

The heat is a serious public health hazard in places such as Phoenix and Las Vegas.

In fact, temperatures of 118F or above have only been recorded 15 times since records were first kept in 1896.

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