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Dangerous heat wave to scorch southwestern U.S., western Colorado

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DENVER — Summer has yet to officially begin, but the weather isn’t waiting until the summer solstice late Tuesday night to kick things into high gear.

Dangerous temperatures are expected to scorch the Southwest, providing no relief for days.

Phoenix, Las Vegas and Death Valley in California could break all-time record high temperatures.

Cities including Los Angeles; Reno, Nevada; and San Diego are not in record territory, but are expected to be well above average and will feel unusually hot.

The heat is forecast to extend into parts of western Colorado, including the region around Grand Junction, where temperatures are expected to reach into the low 100s by midweek.

The National Weather Service issued an extreme heat watch for the area for Tuesday to Friday.

Temperatures into the mid-90s are expected in the Denver metro area starting Tuesday.

The days will be sweltering and the nights will prove to be no relief as the overnight low temperatures remain in the 90s for most of the affected areas.

“When you look at Phoenix, a city where record temperatures have been kept since August of 1895, there have been over 45,000 calendar days,” meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said.

“Only four have reached or exceeded 119 degrees and Tuesday could be the fifth in 45,000 days of record-keeping.”

Tucson, Arizona, is likely to tie or break the number of consecutive days above 110, a milestone not reached since 1994.

Las Vegas also gets into the extreme heat game with peaks on Tuesday and Wednesday, and could gamble with its highest temperature ever observed, which was 117 degrees in 2013.

It will be close, as the current forecast for Las Vegas is 116. These values are potentially deadly if the proper precautions are not taken.

High pressure is partly to blame for the prolonged expectancy of this heat wave. Over the next several days, high pressure will dominate in the Southwest, creating what is known as a heat dome.

Sinking air, associated with an area of high pressure, essentially traps the heat near the surface. When heat is trapped, health officials become concerned for not only heat exhaustion, but air quality as well.

How to beat the heat

With a busy Father’s Day weekend on tap and likely to include outdoor activities such as barbecues and sporting events, it is important to know the dangers that extreme heat creates.

If you can’t avoid being outside and staying close to air conditioning, here’s some ways to beat the heat:

  • Never leave your car locked or unattended without checking for pets and children.
  • Hydrate with water, avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, which can keep your body temperature down several degrees.
  • Wear sunscreen SPF 15 or higher to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Don’t forget to check on neighbors, friends, and family, especially the young or elderly who are at more risk of heath damage from excessive heat.