US Heatwave Continues to Shatter Records, Cause Deaths Across the Country

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jul 08, 2024

A continuous heat wave that has recently gripped the continental US has been shattering records as it brought heat and humidity to the country over the weekend.

The National Weather Service’s highest level of heat warning has been in effect for about 36 million people or 10% of the US population as several areas see highs holding steady at over 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Breaking Records

Northern California saw multiple areas surpass 110 degrees and the city of Redding reached a new record high of 119 degrees.

A bright sun seen in the sky above clouds.

Source: Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Phoenix, Arizona just set a new Sunday daily record for the highest low temperature. Even at night, the temperature in Phoenix did not drop below 92 degrees.


People Dying From the Heat

A 128-degree high was recorded on Saturday and Sunday at the Death Valley National Park in California, resulting in one death and another person being hospitalized when they were riding motorcycles.

A road seen going in the distance in the daytime in Death Valley.

Source: Johannes Plenio/Unsplash

“While this is a very exciting time to experience potential world record setting temperatures in Death Valley, we encourage visitors to choose their activities carefully, avoiding prolonged periods of time outside of an air-conditioned vehicle or building when temperatures are this high,” said park Superintendent Mike Reynolds in a statement.

Heat Sneak

Park officials warned the public that the toll the heat takes on people is cumulative and that they must always be vigilant for when it could sneak up on them.

A clear plastic water bottle on a surface.

Source: Steve Johnson/Pexels

“Besides not being able to cool down while riding due to high ambient air temperatures, experiencing Death Valley by motorcycle when it is this hot is further challenged by the necessary heavy safety gear worn to reduce injuries during an accident,” said the park statement.

Southwest Heat Swell

In the Southwest of the United States, areas in Nevada kept cooler by mountains experienced rare heat advisories.

A view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains located in the United STates.

Source: Jared Ray Coleman/Wikimedia

“How hot are we talking? Well, high temperatures across (western Nevada and northeastern California) won’t get below 100 degrees (37.8 C) until next weekend,” said the weather service in Reno, Nevada. “And unfortunately, there won’t be much relief overnight either.”

Attracting Tourists

Some tourists and visitors upon hearing of the record heat wave wanted to go down and experience it for themselves and be part of the record-setting temperatures.

A sunset seen from the road in Warm Springs, Oregon.

Source: Rammohangr/Wikimedia

“We just thought, let’s be there for that,” said Tracy Housely, a native of Manchester England. “Let’s go for the experience.”


Hottest Temperature on Record

The hottest temperature officially recorded on the entire planet was set in 1913 in Death Valley. It was recorded as 134 degrees Fahrenheit, though some dispute this figure.

A sunset lighting up in the sky red seen in Greece.

Source: Jason Mavrommatis/Unsplash

Some think that a measurement of 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley in 2021 is the real record measurement.


Death Toll Rising

Arizona’s Maricopa County has reported at least 13 heat-related deaths this year that have been officially confirmed. There are another 160 deaths still under investigation that are suspected to be related to heat deaths.

A close-up of an IV bag on a pole in a hospital.

Source: Marcelo Leal/Unsplash

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has noted an increase in heat deaths in the US in recent years. In 2021 there were 1,602 confirmed annual heat deaths, which has increased to 2,302 in 2023.


California Wildfires

As heatwaves continue to bear down on the country, California is having to simultaneously deal with several wildfires that are destroying countless acres.

A view of a wildfire in California seen from a neighborhood at night.

Source: Nikolay Maslov/Unsplash

A fire in Santa Barbara County had destroyed more than 25 square miles and had zero containment as of Sunday. Many areas in California are under evacuation orders as the wildlands burn under the heat.


More Than People Can Take

Some commenters online expressed being brought to the breaking point because of the heat, especially those without AC.

Several air conditioning units mounted on the side of a building with a colorful mural in the background

Source: Ashkan Forouzani/Unsplash

“I’ve spent over a week of this heat wave so far without ac. 106ish most days for several hours.  This does feel like the most I can take for a sustained period,” said a Reddit user.


Heat Wave No More

Others joked that the use of the word “heat wave” is starting to not make alot of sense as the heat remains in place for such a long time.

Close-up of a fan.

Source: Siebe Warmoeskerken/ Unsplash

“‘Persistent heat wave’ kinda sounds like its not so much a ‘wave’ anymore,” said one Reddit user.


Cooking Meat

Some were shocked by the high temperature recorded in Death Valley over the weekend.

A cooked rare piece of steak on a white plate next to a sharp knife.

Source: Sven Brandsma/Unsplash

‘A high temperature of 128 F (53.3 C) was recorded Saturday and Sunday at Death Valley National Park in eastern California.’ At a point of comparison, the ribeye I cooked yesterday was at 120F, by the use of a meat thermometer,” said a Reddit user.