PHOENIX (AP) _ A blazing heat wave expected to send the mercury soaring to
nearly 120 degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas settled over the West on Friday,
threatening to ground airliners and raising fears that people and pets will get
burned on the scalding pavement.
The heat was so punishing that zookeepers in Phoenix hosed down the elephants
and fed tigers frozen fish snacks. Officials at Salt River Project, the Phoenix
area’s largest electricity provider, closely monitored usage in order to
redirect energy in case of a potential overload. And extra personnel were added
to the U.S. Border Patrol’s Search, Trauma, and Rescue unit.
At least seven people have been found dead in the last week in Arizona after
falling victim to the desert’s brutal heat.
The scorching weather also presented problems for airlines because high
temperatures can make it more difficult for planes to take off. Hot air reduces
lift and also hurts engine performance. Smaller jets and propeller planes are
more likely to be affected.
And Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the famously hard-nosed
sheriff who runs a tent jail, planned to distribute ice cream and cold towels to
inmates this weekend.