Las Vegas hits 117 degrees, tying a record, as the Southwest bakes

Xaviere Coleman, one of the costumed performers on the Las Vegas Strip, tries to cool off as temperatures skyrocket Tuesday. Coleman, who dresses as a Wookiee, was among a few performers who braved the heat.
Xaviere Coleman, one of the costumed performers on the Las Vegas Strip, tries to cool off as temperatures skyrocket Tuesday. Coleman, who dresses as a Wookiee, was among a few performers who braved the heat.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

For much of the afternoon, outdoor dining areas and patios along the Las Vegas Strip were empty as the hot sun pounded the streets and sidewalk relentlessly.

Near the Linq Hotel & Casino, spray misters attached to tall posts outside gamely tried to combat the heat — though the water evaporated quickly. There were warnings throughout the day from county officials urging people to drink plenty of water. Humane societies reminded people to not let pets walk on pavement to avoid scalded paws.

Throughout the casino properties, pools were filled, drinks were emptied and the city rolled on despite typing its hottest temperature in history.


Las Vegas hit 117 degrees late Tuesday afternoon, tying a record that has happened only three other times in the city’s history, the first in 1937 and the most recent four years ago.

It was a relative cool spot compared with Yuma in neighboring Arizona, however, where the mercury hit 120 degrees. Blythe, Calif., on the border with Arizona, reached 121 degrees.

Arizona, essentially the bull’s-eye for the high-pressure system that was covering much of the Southwest, also saw its capital hit 118 degrees by late Tuesday. That was 2 degrees off the record high.

The weather was so severe, however, that it caused dozens of flights to be delayed or canceled out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — the second straight sweltering day it happened.

The Salt River Project, a public power utility, on Monday delivered a record amount of energy to its Phoenix-area retail customers. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., the company delivered an estimated retail peak demand of 6,981 megawatts. That peak eclipsed the previous record of 6,873 megawatts set last year.


American Airlines said seven flights had been delayed out of Phoenix because of the heat and 43 regional flights have been canceled Tuesday.

The airline said the Bombardier CRJ regional aircraft can operate under a maximum temperature of 118 degrees. Those are largely the American Eagle flights operated by Mesa and SkyWest, with 90 departures and 90 arrivals daily.

There were four heat-related delays out of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Monday, but none had been reported for Tuesday.

Christine Crews, spokeswoman for the airport, said in higher temperatures it uses a longer east-west runway for some of the larger planes with heavier loads. The higher the temperatures get, the thinner the air gets, and more speed is needed for planes to take off.

It was enough of an issue that after Hainan Airlines launched the first two nonstop flights from Las Vegas to Beijing in late 2016, it announced in May it was changing the departure times out of McCarran in the summer from late afternoon to early morning because of the heat.

Flight delays or cancellations are ultimately decided by the airlines.

The largest carrier out of Las Vegas is Southwest, and it reported no delays or cancellations due to the heat. It also reported no cancellations out of Phoenix.

Chad Martin, who was getting ready to leave Las Vegas to go home to Oklahoma on Southwest Airlines, said he kind of hoped his flight wouldn’t take off until the record had been tied or broken.

The 42-year-old said he’d been playing blackjack in the outdoor pool area at the Flamingo hotel and casino before getting ready to head to the airport. He sat with his wife and child inside the cool casino, taking a break before leaving.

Playing cards in the heat had paid off, even as he sweated out the hands.

“The table was hot,” he said. “But the seats out there were even hotter.”

His wife, Amy, said the pool water was so warm that “it was barely refreshing.” She said she looked forward to getting back to Oklahoma’s more reasonable temperatures, which were hovering in the 90s.

At the Flamingo, which is famous for its flocks of birds that wander between the pool and the casino in a wildlife habitat area, officials were monitoring the animals to see how they were coping in the heat.

Caesars Entertainment, which operates the casino, said the birds aren’t usually brought in unless temperatures exceed 120 degrees. On Tuesday afternoon, many of the birds stood in the water and a few others clustered under misters spraying water.

Excessive heat is not uncommon from June to September, though National Weather Service meteorologist Kate Guillet said the early part of summer can be slighter hotter as the region awaits monsoon season.

Arizona, which is often one of the hottest places in the United States in the summer, can be one of the deadliest places in the summer. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were about 1,300 deaths from exposure to excessive natural heat from 2005 to 2015.

Phoenix and Las Vegas are expected stay in the triple digits throughout the week, though Tuesday was supposed to be the hottest day of the week.

Twitter: @davemontero


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5:25 p.m: This article was updated to report the temperature hit 117 degrees in Las Vegas, tying a record.

This article was originally published at 11:50 a.m.