Heat wave grips US West amid fear of new, hotter normal

An unusually early and long-lasting heat wave brought more triple-digit temperatures Wednesday to a large swath of the U.S. West, raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought.

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June 17, 2021 - 9:48 AM

Sunset obscured by smoke-filled skies where Sequoia trees had grown on this Sierra Nevada ridgetop for well over 500 years. Giant Sequoia National Monument on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Springville, California. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

PHOENIX (AP) — An unusually early and long-lasting heat wave brought more triple-digit temperatures Wednesday to a large swath of the U.S. West, raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought.

Phoenix, which is seeing some of the highest temperatures this week, tied a record for the second day in a row when it reached 115 degrees Wednesday and was expected to hit 117 each of the next two days, the National Weather Service said. 

Scientists who study drought and climate change say that people living in the American West can expect to see more of the same in the coming years. 

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