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Four people have died from the record-breaking heat in the U.S. Southwest where triple-digit temperatures have canceled airline flights and driven people indoors.
U.S. Weather | Southwest heat

Dangerous heat continues across the Southwest

Friday, June 23, 2017, 11:56 - Above-normal temperatures with values reaching 120oF are expected to continue in several areas of the southwest U.S. as summer 2017 kicks off. Residents and visitors are reminded to use extra precaution when heading outdoors as this extreme heat has left at least four dead in the the Southwest this week.

Following the pattern experienced during the first half of the week, the most intense heat will be felt in interior areas of California, especially across the southern deserts, and in central and southwest Arizona.

This prolonged heat wave is becoming a problem for many residents in the area, but also for some airlines scheduled to fly into some of the hotter airports especially during hours of intense heat. 

On Tuesday, more than 50 flights were canceled in and out of Phoenix and during the next few days, travelers could run into a similar situation. 

It is common to run into this extreme heat in the southwest this time of year. This is the typical weather pattern which forms prior to the onset of the classical summer monsoon, with the highest temperatures of the year normally occurring the second half of June and early July. Here's a look at what Phoenix, Arizona, can expect over the next week:

Despite the intense heat, daytime highs should be cooler in the central and northern California interior valley for the second half of the week, and a tad cooler in other areas where the heat has been extremely intense during the beginning of the week.

As a reference, Phoenix should cool down from near 118oF to around 113oF during the latter part of the week, and even more by early next week.

What is making this heat wave so intense and dangerous is that it is a prolonged one, and will end up affecting the region for at least one full week. 

On top of that, nighttime temperatures have not been dropping as expected and remain in the mid 80s to low 90s in many areas.

Very High to Extreme Fire Risk in some areas

The intense heat and the dry weather have brought along enemy number one for residents in the area: An increase in the risk of wildfires. Those areas where intense heat and stronger winds can team-up will have a greater chance of experiencing fires. 

Watch below: Firefighters battling a growing blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains

Those areas where extreme fire danger is expected include southern Nevada, northwest Arizona and spotty areas across southern California and Arizona. 

Luckily, there is no major thunderstorm activity forecast for the region this week, which means the chances of lightning initiating a wildfire are very slim. With this extreme heat episode occurring, everyone in the region should be especially cautious about their day to day activities, especially those capable of sparking a flame and cause a fire. 

Slow cool down by the weekend but more heat in store

Overall daytime temperatures are forecast to drop as the first weekend of summer approaches. However, the end of the month will continue to deliver temperatures above normal across many areas of the western US and especially in the same areas affected by the heat wave this week.

Southern California, much of Nevada and western Arizona have the highest chances of running into such an above normal heat scenario.

The Monthly Weather Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center also shows a possible continuation of this heat with a warmer than average July across much of the country.

The highest probability of this occurring is not only confined to areas of the Four Corner states, but also to western Alaska, Florida, extreme southern Texas and New England.

Watch below: Waterspout forms as Tropical Storm Cindy gains steam in the Gulf

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