Southwest celebrates first day of summer with heat wave

Frederick Owens
June 20, 2017

The first day of summer is forecast to bring some of the worst heat the southwestern US has seen in years.

American Airlines canceled 50 flights to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport due to "extreme heat", the airport said.

The heat wave was already affecting travel at one Arizona airport, where the temperature reached 118 degrees on Monday.

American Airlines said that planes used for regional flights can operate in temperatures up to 118 degrees.

Airlines can use other strategies for limiting weight during hot weather, such as not fuelling completely, then making a refuelling stop.

Tourists hitting the Las Vegas Strip will feel the sizzle Monday as temperatures could top 114 degrees.

Surgeons at the major burn center serving Arizona are urging people to be aware of the danger of severe burns caused by excessive heat blanketing the southwestern United States.

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Wunderground Weather Historian Christopher C. Burt said Phoenix temperatures rose to 120 degrees and above only three times in recorded history-twice in 1990 and once in 1995.

The weather service issued an excessive heat watch during the surge in temperatures. It could get even hotter on Wednesday with a forecast temperature of 109 degrees.

These values can be deadly if the proper precautions are not taken.

The human body's internal cooling system isn't very effective when temperatures go above 110 degrees says Dr. Moneesh Bhow, medical director for Banner University Medical Center Emergency Department.

Temperatures below the rim of the canyon are expected to reach as high as 117 degrees this week. Larger jets, such as Airbus and Boeing, aren't expected to be affected by this week's heat.

Phoenix hit 90 degrees at 7 a.m. Monday morning, and they're shooting for a high around 116. Similar temperatures are expected across much of the U.S. southwest, prompting a public health hazard. "Hot air is less dense" than cold air, which makes it harder for planes to get off the ground, explains author and airline pilot Patrick Smith, per Business Insider. American Airlines said that Sky Harbor's runways are able to accommodate planes taking off in hot weather.

Jennifer Vollmann, 33, plays with her 2-year-old daughter, Izela, in Encanto Pool on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. I hope everyone takes the risk of unsafe heat seriously and takes advantage of whatever relief options they have.

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