Preparations in Place for Excessive Heat Wave - 8 News NOW

Preparations in Place for Excessive Heat Wave

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LAS VEGAS -- A heat wave is gripping much of the west. If forecasts hold true, there could be record-high temperatures in the valley, beginning Saturday.

The power grid will be pushed to its limits. Tour helicopters will likely see reduced or canceled flights, and McCarran International Airport could see the hottest temperatures ever recorded.

Chris Stachelski is one of the forecasters at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. He will be watching every scientific instrument at the airport to see if Las Vegas ties or breaks the record.

"There will be places in Vegas that will be one hundred and eighteen to probably one hundred and twenty two, especially out toward Boulder Highway and Lake Las Vegas," Stachelski said. "This is going to be historic if it gets to one hundred and eighteen. In our official records going back to 1937, this would be the first time it's really happened."

Stachelski said McCarran has hit 118 degrees before, but it wasn't official. On July 19, 2005, the temperature spiked to 118 degrees out the airport for approximately two minutes.

"The temperature has to hold for three minutes out of a five minute period," Stachelski added. "It doesn't have to be consecutive, just as long as it hits it for three minutes."

Experts say several things occur as the temperature rises.

At 111 degrees, tour helicopters scale back or ground flights due to engine limitations.

At 112 degrees, excessive heat warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, and cooling stations are set up.

At 114 degrees, NV Energy says they see a spike in energy consumption.

If temperatures hit 118 degrees, an all-time record would be set.

"We have crews standing by that, if there is a problem, we are going to get someone there right away," NV Energy representative Greg Kern said.

Kern says they are prepared for the spike in temperatures.

During a heat wave in July 2007, the company recorded record energy demand - pushing the system to its limits. No outages or serious problems were reported at that time. NV Energy officials have been adding capacity. They say no matter what the temperature gauge reads, the power will be there for everyone.

The heat shouldn't affect planes at McCarran Airport. Each plane has different limitations when it comes to the heat according to the FAA.

In 1990, Phoenix air traffic was stopped for a short time when the temperature hit an all-time high of 122 degrees.

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