APACHE JUNCTION — A brutal heat wave that has been baking central Arizona this week is forecast to ramp up in intensity in the coming days, causing many locations already sweltering to experience warmth well above normal, with temperature readings at 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
The dangerous heat has caused excessive heat warnings to be issued across the Desert Southwest from southeastern Arizona and even into central California. Areas under the warnings include cities such as Las Vegas, Indio, California, and Phoenix.
Apache Junction, where the temperature is expected to hit 114, is asking everyone to look out for each other.
“Our elderly neighbors are the most susceptible to heat-related illness and often they don’t want to burden others with their problems. It’s entirely possible that the vulnerable adult next door to you is living without a functional air-conditioner or cooler,” the Apache Junction Police Department said in a news release. “It’s unfortunate but there are documented cases of vulnerable adults dying from heat-related illness because they unintentionally turned on the heat when they were trying to cool their homes.
“Take some time this weekend to look in on your neighbors.”
In the summer of 2017, PinalCentral reported four deaths in Pinal County that were attributed to heat, including an elderly Apache Junction-area couple who were found in their home where the air conditioner was not working.
Wednesday an Apache Junction woman reported missing was found dead, possibly due to the heat.
Pinal County Sheriff’s officials said the body of 70-year-old Myra Lewis was located in the afternoon. Lewis left her home on foot at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and failed to return, triggering a missing person’s alert.
Authorities said Lewis had Alzheimer’s disease and a cognitive impairment.
Ongoing and worsening drought over the southwestern United States will continue to contribute to well-above-average heat into early next week.
“As a northward bulge in the jet stream with its associated area of high pressure at most levels of the atmosphere builds this weekend, temperatures are forecast to surge to new highs this summer over the interior Southwest and portions of the central and southern plains,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
This setup allows a minimum of cloud cover and shower activity, and since the air aloft is also very warm, temperatures can climb to extreme levels in the summertime near the ground.
The ongoing and intensifying drought in the Southwest and parts of the plains will play a major role as well.
“The pre-existing dry soil allows most of the sun’s energy to heat the ground and the air nearest the ground, rather than to evaporate moisture,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.
“This drought-heat cycle often produces extreme temperatures and allows heat waves to build,” Dombek explained.
Alex Sosnowski is a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.