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A brutal heat wave is expected to scorch the southwestern U.S. this week, with some cities likely to see all-time record high temperatures.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said this will likely be one of the most intense heat waves seen in many years across desert Southwest, including parts of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

High temperatures could climb well above 110 degrees each day for the next week across the area. Many desert locations, including Tucson and Phoenix, could reach the 120-degrees Fahrenheit mark on Tuesday or Wednesday, followed by a slow decline in temperatures in days to come.

Image: national weather service

Image: national weather service

“The theme over the next week will be the intense and dangerous heat wave that will impact the entire region,” the NWS’s Phoenix office said on Sunday in a forecast discussion. “Monday through Thursday will be the days that we likely tie or break records.” 

If temperatures remain at or above 115 degrees those days — which is likely — the area will tie the record for the number of consecutive days at or above 115 degrees, which was originally set in 1968, according to the forecast notes. 

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories are in effect across the area. Weather experts are urging people to drink plenty of water, stay indoors, crank up the air conditioning, and to check on friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who might be at risk of heat exhaustion or stroke.

This unusually punishing heat wave is largely the result of a “heat dome” phenomenon.

In these weather events, a strong high pressure seals the atmosphere and traps heat near the surface. Beyond scorching temperatures, heat domes also trap pollution and affect air quality.

The first brutal heat wave of the 2017 season struck earlier this month, affecting tens of millions of Americans from New England all the way west to the High Plains. Numerous record highs were set in early June, including a 93-degree high in Bridgeport, Connecticut; 95 degrees in Lansing, Michigan; a 97 degrees in Newark, New Jersey.

While not all extreme heat events can be traced to human activity, heat waves are among the surest signs of human-caused global warming. Studies have shown a sharply increased risk of these events  as ocean and surface temperatures climb.

In April, researchers reported that in addition to making extreme weather events more likely throughout the world, climate change is also making such events more severe. Heat waves in particular are becoming more intense and longer-lasting.

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