Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Heat wave continues to scorch LV Valley

Notably Hot Days in Las Vegas History

  • 117 degrees: July 24, 1942, and July 19, 2005
  • 116 degrees: June 15, 1940, and Aug. 3, 1979
  • 113 degrees: Sept. 1, 1950
  • 109 degrees: May 23, 2003
  • 103 degrees: Oct. 1, 1978

— National Weather Service

Whitney Rotert, a 14-year Las Vegas resident, was not at all surprised that Tuesday's heat was one for the top of the record books.

"It feels like it," she said as she picked up a painted pot at a shop on Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road.

"It's too hot," she said as the sun set on a day that reached a 117-degree high at 3:22 p.m., according the National Weather Service. It tied the record for the Las Vegas Valley set 63 years ago.

Southern Nevada shattered five other summer records, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Fuis reported, including the record high for the day, which was 115 degrees set in 1989. Tuesday ranked as the fourth day in a row that the high temperature has been 115 degrees or higher. The previous record was three days in a row set in July 1942, June 1950 and June 1994.

The Weather Service extended an excessive heat warning through 8 p.m. today. Las Vegas could reach 114 degrees or more today.

Connecticut native Lynn Bakis moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago and considers scorching Southern Nevada summers the way New Englanders treat winter.

"Here you hibernate in the summertime," Bakis said. She'd rather suffer through three months' heat than spend it in rain and snow.

"Just think when it finally breaks in the fall," Bakis said of the heat.

Fuis said the Weather Service sees some seasonal monsoonal moisture knocking at Southern Nevada's door. Hurricane Emily, which made landfall in northern Mexico, is expected to bring enough moisture to fire up thunderstorms late Friday through the early part of next week.

"We'll go from uncomfortably very dry and hot to uncomfortably humid and hot," Fuis said. "With the humidity, it will feel just as miserable."

For 10-year resident Ashley Brennan, the secret to beating the heat is staying inside during the hottest part of the day.

"We go outside at night when it's cooler," Brennan said.

That strategy didn't work early Tuesday when the morning low of 95 degrees broke the record for the hottest low temperature of 93 degrees set just two days ago, Fuis said.

Brennan's friend, Laurel Vandusteeg, visiting from Minneapolis, stood nearby wearing a long-sleeved black sweatshirt with a hood.

"It's OK, it's not that big of a deal," Vandusteeg said of the heat.

Actually, the heat is a big deal, especially for those not accustomed to it, said Tim Szymanski, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue spokesman.

Paramedics answered 20 heat-related calls on Tuesday, Szymanski said.

Emergency calls for heat stress have averaged 15 to 25 a day for the past week, which is five to eight times the normal responses for paramedics, he said.

"Tourists aren't acclimated to this kind of heat," Szymanski said.

A total of six out-of-state visitors have died from heat-related conditions from 2001 until 2003, the last year for which records are available, said Wei Yang, state director for the Center for Health Data and Research in Carson City.

All but one of those deaths occurred in Clark County, Yang said. That tourist died in Churchill County. One person died in 2001, three in 2002 and two in 2003.

A total of 65 people have died from heat-related causes from 2000 through 2003, and they were all Clark County residents, except one person who died in Elko in 2002 Yang said.

While eight glasses of water a day keeps the average person hydrated when temperatures are cooler, drinking 10 to 12 glasses of water is not unreasonable in this heat, nutritionist Jeff Allen said.

"In the sun, you lose not only salt, but magnesium, calcium and trace minerals," Allen said. "I've lived here awhile, so I'm acclimated."

The heat had stores, restaurants and businesses stretching air conditioners' effectiveness with electric fans to cool customers further. Many businesses have wrapped fabric around their outside door handles to protect patrons' hands from burns.

The highest daily average temperature was also broken Tuesday, Fuis said. Combining the morning low and the day's high averaged to 106 degrees, one degree higher than the record set two days ago.

The official record taken at McCarran International Airport for 115 degrees or greater in one month was also broken on Tuesday. This month temperatures have soared over the mark five days, compared to four days set just yesterday.

McCarran also experienced some flight delays from the heat, airport spokeswoman Elaine Sanchez said late Tuesday.

America West had some cancellations Tuesday, Sanchez said.

"It is a law of physics," Sanchez said, that some planes have to readjust the weight because it takes longer for aircraft to take off when the temperature is 114 degrees or above.

Business traveler Marc Jerden said in an e-mail message that he and hundreds of other passengers were stranded for eight or even 10 hours Monday.

Jerden was trying to catch a connecting flight through Las Vegas from Portland, Ore., to Tucson. The America West flight was delayed every half hour until 7 p.m. Monday, then canceled due to "heat delay."

At 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, Jerden caught his connecting flight.

"I know the science. It's definitely a good reason," Jerden said. "Let me assure you it was more than minor."

Tuesday afternoon America West had canceled three flights and delayed nine others into the evening hours.

Nevada Power Co. decided to delay a scheduled outage to make repairs on Friday, affecting about 2,000 customers in North Las Vegas, spokeswoman Sonya Headen said. Instead, the utility company will reschedule the equipment repairs.

The high temperature reached or topped 100 degrees for a record eighth consecutive day Tuesday at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the National Weather Service said.

The old record of seven straight days reaching the century mark was set July 21-27 of 1980 and matched July 17-23 in 1988.

The current heat streak began on July 12 with a high of 104 degrees. Tuesday's high in Reno was 101 degrees, one degree shy of an individual record for that date set in 1970.