EXPLAINER: What's Behind The Heat Wave In The American West?

Jun 18, 2021

Much of the American West has been blasted with sweltering heat this week as a high pressure dome combines with the worst drought in modern history to launch temperatures into the triple digits. 

A roofer works on a new roof in a housing development while the sun beats down on him as the heat wave continues Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Phoenix.
Credit AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin


Record daily highs have been seen this week in parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Utah even before the official start of summer. Phoenix is baking in some of the U.S. West’s hottest weather and hit a record-breaking 118 degrees Thursday. Climate scientists say the early arrival and intensity of the heat wave have much to do with a long-running drought gripping the region and climate change.