Heat wave grips #Colorado, US West amid fear of a new, hotter normal — The #Aurora Sentinel

From The Associated Press (Anita Snow) via The Aurora Sentinel:

An unusually early and long-lasting heat wave brought more triple-digit temperatures Wednesday to a large swath of the U.S. West, raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought…

Scientists who study drought and climate change say that people living in the American West can expect to see more of the same in the coming years.

Metro Aurora is seeing consecutive days with temperatures above 100, which is abnormal.

“Overall, it has been fairly rare to have 2 consecutive days of 100 degrees or more (in Colorado). In fact, there have only been 14 occurrences since 1872,” National Weather Service officials said in a post…

A few clouds were holding the temperatures down slightly in the desert region of southwest Arizona and southeast California. But there was no real relief expected from the excessive heat warning in effect until at least Sunday…

Elsewhere in the West, triple-digit heat was forecast in Denver, which saw a record high of 101 degrees Tuesday. The weather service issued an excessive heat warning for parts of western Colorado, most of which is experiencing extreme drought conditions…

In Nevada, Las Vegas hit 116 degrees (46.6 Celsius), breaking the record of 114 degrees (45.5 Celsius) for the date set during a record hot spell on June 16, 1940…

In Montana, temperatures over 100 degrees (38 Celsius) have made it tougher to fight wildfires that have exploded in size, triggering evacuations and destroying an undetermined number of homes. Furious winds have stoked the flames and forced the crash-landing of a firefighting helicopter.

At least 14 new fires have been reported in Montana and Wyoming since Tuesday.

The dry weather was also being felt in Idaho, where authorities are preparing for what could be a challenging wildfire season.

Nick Nauslar, a meteorologist with the National Interagency Fire Center, told state officials this week that nearly 80% of Idaho is in drought and the rest will likely experience it in the coming months. He said Idaho had its second-driest spring in the last 126 years.

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