Why 2021’s heat waves are so brutal

Why 2021’s heat waves are so brutal


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 17: A digital sign displays a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit as a heat wave continues to bake the Southwest United States on June 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The US is only a few days into summer and another heat wave is already coming for the West. “Record shattering” would be an understatement to describe the last heat wave, which lingered over the Southwest last week and has since shifted eastward. Roughly 4,000 new temperature records have alreadybeen set this year. More are going to make the books over the next week.

Both heat waves are caused by atmospheric conditions called heat domes. In short, a heat dome is a trap. It forms when high pressure in the upper atmosphere creates a sort of lid or cap that stops hot air from escaping, according to NOAA. As the air sinks back down to Earth, it compresses and heats up even more. The heat dome also blocks out clouds and…

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