Dangerous heat waves across U.S. affecting millions


Dangerous heat across the U.S. has impacted millions of people, with temperatures breaking records in some areas and even causing death. Electric bills are also expected to increase this summer as Americans fight to stay cool at home. Here is how the extreme heat is affecting the country.

California heat wave temperatures

In California's Death Valley on Sunday, temperatures reached 129 degrees Fahrenheit, tying the area's daily heat record set in 2007, according to the service.

At least one person in Death Valley died and another was hospitalized in Las Vegas for heat exposure on Sunday. The person who died was not identified but the pair was part of a group of six motorcyclists. The other four were treated at the scene. Emergency helicopters could not respond because they cannot safely fly at temperatures higher than 120 degrees.

Most of Los Angeles County is under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Preliminary reports on Sunday showed daily heat records were broken in two cities just northeast of Los Angeles. Palmdale reached 114 degrees, and Lancaster got up to 115 degrees, breaking the city's record.

NWS Los Angeles also warned that high wind gusts and hot and dry conditions could exacerbate wildfires in the mountains, deserts and interior valleys, with small fires at risk of growing.

At least 21 wildfires are burning in California, forcing evacuations in some parts.

Even Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are experiencing extreme heat, with the city of Redding, California, reaching a record 119 degrees this weekend and several cities in Oregon, including Portland, breaking daily heat records with temperatures expecting to persist, according to the National Weather Service Portland.

Las Vegas breaks heat record

Las Vegas shattered a daily heat record on Sunday with 120 degrees degree temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. The previous daily record was 116 degrees set in 2017. Several other cities, including Kingman, Arizona, and Death Valley, California, set or tied heat records on Saturday and Sunday and more daily heat records were expected to be set on Monday.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for the Las Vegas valley and several surrounding areas.

The service conducted several demonstrations to show people how hot it was. In one, they attempted to bake cookies on top of a car dashboard that was registering at 215 degrees. In about 40 minutes, the cookies began to bake.

They also tested if they could melt crayons outside. Sure enough, their art project worked — the crayons ran down a blank canvas, creating a rainbow from the melted wax.

Electrical bills expected to increase due to heat

Families are likely to see their electrical bills increase 7.9% from June to September this year to an average cost of $719, compared with $661 during the same period last year, according to projections from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association and the Center for Energy Poverty and Climate.

Over the last 10 years, as summer temperatures have increased and the U.S. has experienced more extreme heat events, the cost of cooling homes during the summer has gradually increased from an average of $476 in 2014, according to NEADA, a nonprofit that works to provided energy to low-income households.

This will impact low-income families the most, especially in states that have no summer-shut off protects for electricity, NEADA says. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have protections for low income households, but families in the other states could face dangerous heat if they cannot pay their bills.

According to the association, nearly 20% of low-income households have no air conditioning. And on top of this, the federal funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance was decreased by $2 billion this year. Nearly 80% of the program's funds are used for heating, so only 20% is left over to ensure low-income families stay cool during heat.

Extreme weather coast-to-coast

The National Weather Service has also issued a heat advisory for all of Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Parts of the Northeast, including most of New Jersey and New York City and parts of Pennsylvania, the D.C. metro area, Connecticut and Massachusetts are also under a heat advisory.

Hurricane Beryl made landfall in Texas on Monday morning, bringing with it heavy rain and wind and an increase in tornado threats, according to The Weather Channel. Parts of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois are under a flood watch, according to the National Weather Service.

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