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Western Heat Wave Continues Into Holiday

UPDATED 9:15 AM PDT, July 4, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Seth Carrier

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Record heat shows no signs of letting up until the end of the abbreviated work week in the West as high pressure remains anchored over the region.

An unseasonably strong area of high pressure is locked across the Four Corners region, but is starting to show a few signs of weakening. This slight weakening will open the door for a few thunderstorms across the Sierra Nevada and southern Rockies. For other areas, oven-like heat will continue unabated through Friday.

Thanks to the continuing wave of heat, Excessive Heat Warnings stretch from the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and the Great Basin into western Arizona. This includes Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Jose and Fresno, Calif., and Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

After days in the mid-110s today, highs will drop off by a few degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas on Friday. Even Death Valley, Calif., will get a bit of a break from the intense heat. Highs in the lower 120s will drop into the 110s by Saturday. Farther north, temperatures will ease into the 80s on Independence Day and staying there through the weekend.

The drop in temperatures is due to an upper-level disturbance pushing into the side of the high pressure ridge that has been the source of all of the heat.

Highs on Wednesday once again reached record levels in many locations. Ukiah, Calif., hit 112 degrees, while Indio, Calif., saw highs in the triple-digits after a record morning low of "only" 95 degrees! Milford, Utah warmed to 102 degrees while Evanston, Wyo., at an elevation of more than 6,700 feet, hit 90 degrees.

Meanwhile, the long heat wave has been disruptive to life in the West. Nearly 375 people were treated for heat-related illnesses in southern Nevada and California and one person who did not have air conditioning was found dead at his house. Two people hiking in the sand dunes in Death Valley, Calif., were treated for heat-related injuries last Friday. One person was listed in serious condition.

Residents of the Southwest are urged to be careful when conducting outdoor activities, to avoid strenuous activity during the middle of the day if possible, and to drink plenty of water.

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