Las Vegas sizzle sends dozens to hospital


LAS VEGAS — In Las Vegas, a city known for its relentless summer sizzle, thermometers rose steadily Saturday, hitting 114 late in the day, extreme heat that has sent dozens to hospitals.

Phoenix shattered its record for the day by at least 1 degree, hitting 118 late in the afternoon.

The previous record of 117 was set in 1994.

Vegas needs to surpass 115 degrees to mark a historic heat day.

“It’s gonna be close,” said Andrew Gorelow of the National Weather Service in Las Vegas Saturday. “We just hit 114 and we’re still predicting 117 for today, tomorrow and Monday.”

Extreme heat is gripping most of the Southwest and California.

The forecast has prompted health warnings across the Las Vegas tourist mecca, including the cancellation of the Running with the Devil marathon in nearby Boulder City and stay-indoors warnings for the elderly.

On Friday, temperatures climbed to 115 degrees, tying the record for June 28 set in 1994, the National Weather Service told The Los Angeles Times.

In Las Vegas, Clark County Fire Department officials say that scores of people attending the Vans Warped Tour at the Silverton Casino on Friday afternoon were treated for heat-related problems.

Of those, 34 people were taken to local hospitals. Another seven were hospitalized after falling ill at other locations, authorities said.

So far, there have been no deaths reported.

This is a city where on the hottest days, residents can scorch their feet on hot sidewalks even at midnight and where letters bake and crinkle only after a few hours in outdoor mailboxes.

Authorities were taking no chances Saturday, warning people against leaving pets and children in cars and reminding pet owners not to leave animals outside without water.

The city has established numerous cooling stations for elderly and other low-income residents fearful of the cost of running air conditioners.

And local destinations such as Lake Mead National Recreation Center Red Rock park have warned visitors against strenuous activities.

To keep pace with energy demands, the local power company, NV Energy, announced that it would use so-called peaking units, supplementary power stations that in just a few minutes can provide energy to cool more than 300,000 homes.

In Phoenix, people slid into the shade, jumped in a pool or sequestered themselves in air-conditioned homes to escape the outside furnace.

Based on the latest forecast, June will finish as the hottest on record for the Phoenix area, narrowly beating out June 2006, National Weather Service officials reported.

Still, the blazing temperatures this past week haven’t dampened spirits. National Weather Service officials posted pictures showing a photo progression of an “NWS Phoenix Cookie Baking Experiment” in a car, an illustration that started at noon Friday.

“They were probably done before 4:15, but yes, by then they were done. They tasted just like they were baked in an oven. More crispy than chewy! One of our forecasters ate them!” weather officials reported on the website.

Some in southern Arizona attempted to flee the heat by driving north to Flagstaff.

It wasn’t that much cooler, but a conga line of cars backed up on Interstate 17 to get into town Saturday afternoon.

By 2:30 p.m., it was already 91 in Flagstaff when temperatures are usually about 15 degrees lower this time of year, according to weather records.