The Heat Is Online

Record-breaking heat wave blankets western U.S.

Scorching heat bakes West, toppling records

NBC News, July 1, 2013

A smothering dome of high pressure from Montana to Arizona has immersed the West in dangerous conditions, feeding wildfires and record highs -- with little relief in sight.

The blast of heat is likely to last through the Fourth of July, according to The Weather Channel, with highs ranging from 100 degrees in Spokane, Wash., to the 110s and 120s in the Desert Southwest. 

Setting records for heat in the Southwest is a high bar to reach, but more fell Sunday. Las Vegas hit 117 degrees. Since record-keeping began there in 1937, the only other times the temperature reached 117 degrees were on July 19, 2005, and July 24, 1942, according to the National Weather Service. 

Seven people were hospitalized for heat-related health illnesses on Sunday, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

The heat wave turned deadly in Sin City Saturday when a Las Vegas Fire & Rescue crew responded to a report of an elderly man in cardiac arrest at a residence without air conditioning.

When paramedics arrived, they found the man was dead, NBC station KSNV reported. The man, who was not identified, did have medical issues, but paramedics characterized his death as heat-related.

The mercury rocketed to 128 degrees Sunday in Death Valley National Park, the National Weather Service said, tying the record for the hottest June day anywhere in the country. 

But the Los Angeles Times reported that the National Park Service thermometer — 200 yards away — recorded a temperature of 129.9, which shatters the record for June.  

The highest-ever recorded air temperature on the planet, according to the Weather Service, was 134 degrees on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley’s Greenland Ranch.

Saturday saw a slew of weather records broken, reported, including in Phoenix, Ariz., which saw its fourth-hottest day in history, with a temperature of 119 degrees.

Salt Lake City, Utah, had its hottest June day on record – 105 degrees – for the second day in a row.

Two guys from the National Weather Service harnessed the power of the sun and took advantage of the extreme heat wave scorching the Western U.S. to bake up some fresh cookies on the dashboard of their car. TODAY's Dylan Dreyer reports.

“We were joking around that we should bake some cookies, because that sounds a lot better than frying an egg,” meteorologist Charlotte Dewey told the Los Angeles Times. “More tasty, anyway.”

One report recorded the temperature in the van at 200 degrees. It took about four hours to bake the cookies – when the temperature hit 116, the cookies were done. Apparently frying an egg on the sidewalk was seen as passé.

In an another unusual occurrence, commuter airline US Airways Express was forced to ground some planes out of Phoenix on Saturday afternoon when temperatures soared above 115, NBC station KPNX reported.

The extreme heat creates less dense air, which does not allow some planes to get the lift they need to fly, according to the station’s meteorologist Matt Pace.

The Associated Press and NBC News' Tracy Jarrett and Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.