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Heat wave scorches Death Valley, America’s hottest of the hot (+video)

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(Read caption) Heat wave hits American West
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Potential record temperatures are inching up across the American West as a high pressure dome slides across gauzy skylines and trembling desert canyons. But only one place can determine whether a new world heat record will be set this weekend: Death Valley, Calif.

Death Valley is a seared moon landscape that periodically blooms with fields of wildflowers. A thermometer near Furnace Creek recorded a 134 degree day in o July 10, 1913, which remains the hottest recorded air temperature on planet earth.

As heat warnings reverberate on Saturday from Phoenix to Las Vegas and hospitals gear up for a spike in heat exhaustion victims and perhaps worse, weather watchers are watching to see whether this heat wave breaks any records.

 

The heat wave is "a huge one," National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto said, according to the AP. "We haven't seen one like this for several years, probably the mid- to late 2000s."

Phoenix was forecast to hit nearly 120 on Saturday. The record in that part of the world, Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, is 122.

Energy-sapping heat is expected to spread across Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, potentially to dangerous levels. Las Vegas may see 117 degrees this weekend, which would mark only the third time the Nevada gambling capital got so hot. An average of 658 Americans die from heat-related causes every year, far more than are hurt or killed by tornadoes.

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