Scorching heat and record temperatures are sweeping the southwest U.S. this week – and there’s still no end in sight. The record setting heat wave is set to continue throughout the Southwest after peaking at 127 degrees in California’s Death Valley on Saturday – that’s just a few degrees shy of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. So far the heat has caused deadly wildfires, grounded airplanes, and melted sneakers – and it’s expected to continue at least through Tuesday.

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In Las Vegas, the 115 degree temperature (which ties the 1994 record) may have contributed to the death of a man in his 80s, who was found in his home with no air conditioning. Nearby, concert goers were rescued by local firefighters (who moved the attendees to a cooler location), and others were sent to hospitals for treatment for heat ailments. Flights in Phoenix were cancelled after temperatures exceeded the federally-approved 118 degrees.

The record-breaking heat wave comes just as we near the 100th anniversary of what the National Weather Service refers to as “the highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth” – a 134 degree scorcher in Death Valley’s Greenland ranch on July 10, 1913.

In the meantime, air conditioning businesses are seeing a boom in demand, and medical services are advising caution in the heat. Health agencies have issued warnings about heat exhaustion and heat stroke – particularly for children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. The heat can dehydrate a person quickly, so it is recommended to drink plenty of water before, during and after any activity, and to avoid working outdoors as much as possible while the heat continues.

According to Indra Petersons, CNN meteorologist, the cause of this heat is a high pressure dome that is blocking cooler air in the Pacific Northwest from coming down south. She expects this system to begin to break up early this week, hopefully giving the Southwest the relief it needs very soon.

Via CNN and Newser

images from David DeHetre and USFWS