LAS VEGAS – This is a town that might as well be situated on the surface of Venus; it's that accustomed to the wrath of the summer sun.
So when this tourist haunt issues health warnings about an upcoming heat wave, it’s a good idea to sit up and take notice.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for this weekend, predicting that temperatures Sunday could match the record-high of 117 degrees, reached on only two other occasions in the city’s recorded history.
Vegas isn’t the only place bracing for oven-like heat between Friday and Monday.
Chris Stachelski, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, told the Los Angeles Times that Death Valley could reach 129 degrees, just a few thermometer ticks off the world-record high of 134 set there on July 10, 1913. Phoenix could reach 118, he added.
Forecasters predict triple digits in the L.A. Basin too. They say they haven’t seen such a recipe for extreme heat hit the region in years.
“What’s really unusual about this is the timing,” Stachelski told The Times. “Typically, it’s the third week of July when the temperatures really heat up. We’re only in June. Three weeks earlier.”
Stachelski attributed the coming heat to what he called “a big area of high pressure, a dome of hot air that’s sitting over the western U.S.”
He added: “The affected areas include large parts of Arizona, Nevada, California and Utah, really the whole intermountain west. The most intense heat, of course, will be felt in the desert.”
Which is exactly where Sin City sits.
Forecasters warn that many surfaces, such as heat-absorbing road asphalt and concrete, can reach 200 degrees, so footwear is a must. They also warned residents to drink lots of water and to wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
Las Vegas and other Western cities anticipating triple-digit temperatures are warning drivers not to leave babies or pets in the car.
The city will open 13 cooling stations to help people overcome by the heat, and for the elderly on fixed incomes who are wary about the cost of running the AC for hours on end.
For Lisa Medford, that’s good to know.
The veteran limousine driver spends her days and nights perched behind the steering wheel of a black vehicle. She says temperatures inside the limo can soar 40 degrees in no time with the air conditioner off, and she has burned her hands on steering wheels too hot to touch.
Medford plans to go to work early this weekend, by 6 a.m.
“It’s a good hour,” she told The Times. “The cars are nice and cool at that time.”