The American West fries as the heat hits 129 degrees

Some of the temperatures were so high as to be downright eccentric. Everyone expects Phoenix or Las Vegas to be toasty in July, but 105F (41C) was little short of stunning in Denver, the usually temperate Colorado capital on the very edge of the Rockies. Grand Junction, on the western slope of the Colorado mountains, hit 106F, as did Pueblo, in the southern part of the state.

Meteorologists said they had counted more than 200 new temperature records in the latter stages of the week - including readings well over the 100F mark in suburban Los Angeles, Utah, New Mexico and elsewhere. Las Vegas, which has registered six deaths, spent much of the week hovering around 115F (46C).

In California's Death Valley, usually the hottest place in the western hemisphere, where winter rains had led to a riotous outburst of spring flowers earlier in the year, the mercury rose to 129F (54C). That, interestingly, was not a record - Death Valley's top temperature, recorded in 1913, was 134F.

In Phoenix, Arizona, homeless people made up 14 of the registered deaths from the heatwave. The others were mostly elderly, including 97-year-old Albert Pinkerton, whose home temperature was measured at 110F when police found his body early in the week. His 88-year-old wife Louise was severely dehydrated but survived.

In California, electrical grid operators called a Stage 2 emergency, meaning the power supply was down to its last 5 per cent, triggering several automatic saving mechanisms.

As lawn sprinklers and air conditioning systems went at full tilt, memories were revived of the "rolling brownouts" that afflicted the state four years ago. State officials said, however, they saw no immediate signs of a similar crisis now.

Weather forecasters offered the chance of a temporary respite, as cooler, wetter air moves in across the country from Hurricane Emily, which made landfall on the Gulf coast of Mexico and southern Texas last week and has headed slowly west as its intensity has gradually dropped off.

The so-called monsoon season in the American West - marked by cloudy afternoon skies and rain showers - is at least two weeks late this year, but may now start with Emily's encouragement.

Forecasters also said, however, that the soaring temperatures showed every sign of lasting, on and off, until the end of the summer. The West is already suffering a protracted drought which has caused reservoir levels to drop and led to considerable pain for the region's farmers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power