Massive heat dome to scorch the Southwest, could smash longstanding records

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Southwest Heatwave Could Break Records

An unusually severe heat wave is projected to roast the Southwest beginning late this week and lasting into next. At the peak of the heat, Phoenix may come close to its all-time record high temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit, with extraordinary heat in Las Vegas and Death Valley, California as well.

SEE ALSO: Earth's hot streak continues with warmest May since at least 1880

Even Los Angeles could hit 100 degrees on Sunday and Monday.

The heat wave will come courtesy of a huge bulge, or ridge, in the jet stream that is going to set up across the South Central U.S. and progressively intensify.

Based on computer model projections, the high pressure area, which will pump warm, relatively dry air into the Southwest, may set records for a specific meteorological parameter (geopotential height anomaly) that helps measure the unusualness of high pressure ridges such as this one.

RELATED: Images of the heat wave that hit the East Cost in 2015:

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Massive heat dome to scorch the Southwest, could smash longstanding records
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: People relax on a hot afternoon at the Astoria Pool in the borough of Queens on August 17, 2015 in New York City. The main pool, the biggest in New York City and administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, sees over 3,000 people on a typical summer weekday. New York city is in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures in the high nineties and with a heat factor making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: A woman uses a sun umbrella along the boardwalk at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on August 20, 2015 in New York City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that July was the planet's warmest month on record. July's average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. NOAA began keeping records in1880. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: A man stands in the water on a sultry morning at Coney Island in Brooklyn on July 21, 2015 in New York City. Despite an overcast sky, thousands of New Yorkers headed to area beaches to cool off from the heat and humidity. The hot weather is expected to break tomorrow with temperatures expected only in the 80's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: A child waits to get into the Astoria Pool in the borough of Queens on August 17, 2015 in New York City. The main pool, the biggest in New York City and administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, sees over 3,000 people on a typical summer weekday. New York city is in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures in the high nineties and with a heat factor making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: People enjoy a hot afternoon at the Astoria Pool in the borough of Queens on August 17, 2015 in New York City. The main pool, the biggest in New York City and administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, sees over 3,000 people on a typical summer weekday. New York city is in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures in the high nineties and with a heat factor making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Life guards do their daily exercises on a sultry morning at Coney Island in Brooklyn on July 21, 2015 in New York City. Despite an overcast sky, thousands of New Yorkers headed to area beaches to cool off from the heat and humidity. The hot weather is expected to break tomorrow with temperatures expected only in the 80's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: A woman sits in a line for ice cream along the East River in Brooklyn on a sweltering hot afternoon on July 28, 2015 in New York City. With temperatures in the 90's and the heat index feeling over 100 degrees, New Yorkers of all ages have been flocking to pools, beaches and air conditioned rooms to try and stay cool. More hot and humid days are forecast for the remainder of the week. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
People enjoy a warm day at the Astoria Park Pool in New York on August 16, 2015. At 330 feet in length, the Astoria Park Pool is the largest in New York City and one of the largest swimming facilities in the United States. AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: A man looks out at the Verrazano Bridge from a pedestrian promanade on a sultry morning in Brooklyn on July 21, 2015 in New York City. Despite an overcast sky, thousands of New Yorkers headed to area Parks and beaches to cool off from the heat and humidity. The hot weather is expected to break tomorrow with temperatures expected only in the 80's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: A woman cools off in the shade at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on August 20, 2015 in New York City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that July was the planet's warmest month on record. July's average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. NOAA began keeping records in1880. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: A man who goes by Ricky Obama tries to keep cool in the heat at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on August 20, 2015 in New York City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that July was the planet's warmest month on record. July's average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. NOAA began keeping records in1880. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Empty water containers are viewed in the trash at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on August 20, 2015 in New York City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that July was the planet's warmest month on record. July's average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. NOAA began keeping records in1880. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: A man uses a sun umbrella along the boardwalk at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on August 20, 2015 in New York City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that July was the planet's warmest month on record. July's average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. NOAA began keeping records in1880. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: Bottles of water sit for sale at a street vendor on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: People line-up for ice cream in Manhattan on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: A woman holds an umbrella on a Manhattan street on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: A woman carries a tired child along a Manhattan street on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: People sit on the steps of the James A. Farley Post Office Building on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: People wear shorts and other light clothing as they walk on a Manhattan street on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: People line-up for ice cream in Manhattan on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: People rest in the shade along a Manhattan street on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: A woman holds a sun umbrella in Manhattan on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 20: A woman holds an umbrella on a Manhattan street on one of the hottest days of the summer on July 20, 2015 in New York City. More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around New York City have lost power as the electric network has been stressed due to the intense heat. New York and much of the East Coast has experienced temperatures in 90's for the past few days with the humidity making it feel over 100 degrees. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Residents of the Southwest are accustomed to hot weather, particularly the dry heat that can occur prior to the annual summer monsoon season, when conditions are more humid and showers and thunderstorms are common.

However, this heat wave will be extreme, and the National Weather Service is warning it is dangerous, given the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke.

Phoenix has only hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher three times before, and the forecast high on Monday is just that — 120.

The sprawling desert city's all-time record high temperature could even be met or exceeded during this heat wave, though that's not a sure bet. Other all-time records are also in jeopardy, including a high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit in Tucson, and 124 degrees in Yuma.

Phoenix has had four straight record highs so far this month, and recorded the earliest 115-degree reading since record-keeping began there in 1895, according to Bob Henson of Weather Underground.

In general, temperatures will run about 20 degrees above average across the Southwest, and excessive heat watches are in effect in Arizona, New Mexico and parts of California.

Above average temperatures will also be found to the northeast, into Colorado, Utah, Texas, Kansas and then dangerously hot and humid conditions are likely for the Southeast early next week as well.

Once again, record highs are crushing record lows this year

So far this year, record highs in the U.S. are far outpacing record lows, which is a gap that has widened in the past several years.

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, there have been 12,061 daily record highs tied or broken so far this year, compared to 1,892 daily record lows during the same period.

The increasingly imbalanced ratio of record highs to lows is an indicator of how climate change is altering the weather in favor of more warm extremes across the country.

This trend is likely to continue, and even grow worse, if emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels continue apace.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Climatic Change found that a business-as-usual emissions path would mean that by 2061-2080, summers in large parts of North and South America, Central Europe, Asia and Africa would have a greater than 90 percent chance of being warmer than any summer in the historic record.

In other words, this means that virtually every summer would be as warm as the hottest seen to date.

RELATED: See images of the Eastern Europe heat wave in 2015:

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Eastern Europe heatwave 2015
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Massive heat dome to scorch the Southwest, could smash longstanding records
A boy jumps into the water at a forbidden place on Zegrze lake near Warsaw, Poland on August 6, 2013. Thirty-five people have drowned in Poland since the beginning of August, according to police, as Poles attempt to combat a heatwave by flocking to the beach. AFP/JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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