Heat in southwestern U.S. enough to melt sneakers

Posted at 7:45 AM, Jul 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-01 07:45:51-04

By Ed Payne, CNN

(CNN) — When it’s so oppressively hot that your sneakers melt, there’s a run on your ice cream shop, and your July 4th plans are dashed, then there’s really not much else you can do but bear it and grin.

And that’s what residents in the record-setting oven-hot region of the southwest are doing.

“Guess where I am? Yea, I’m in the freezer. It’s so hot here arghhh!!!,” said Alex Wong, who posted a picture to his Instagram account.

Chris Morrow, baking in 100-plus degree San Diego heat, said nothing seems to be helping.

“It is so hot that the air conditioner feels warm,” she told CNN’s iReport.

It’s not going away

Highs in Las Vegas hit 117 on Sunday. This tied the all-time record for the city, first set in 1942 and tied in 2005, the National Weather Service reported.

The record-setting heat wave is expected to bake the Southwest well into the work week, the National Weather Service said.

Civic and emergency officials throughout the Southwest say if there was ever a time to worry, this would be it.

The reason isn’t just the oppressive heat that is plaguing the region: It’s the fact it is expected to hang around, and possibly even get worse, over the next few days.

Las Vegas will remain under an excessive heat warning until Thursday night, as will Death Valley.

Screaming for ice cream

Tony Orlowski, manager at Randy’s Restaurant and Ice Cream in Scottsdale, Arizona, said customers all express the same complaint when they come in the door: “It’s hot out there.”

“We tell them, ‘It’s cool in here. Come in and cool off,’” he said.

Orlowski normally recommends a milk shake, a banana split or a couple of scoops of ice cream to take some of the sting out of the summer sun.

Before they head out into the furnace, he advises, “Don’t catch a chill.”

The humor is as dry as the heat.

Enough to melt sneakers

Death Valley, California, resident Mike Wood says he’s used to the heat. But when his running shoes begin to melt, he starts to pay attention.

“The ground temperatures here can approach a hundred degrees so you’re talking about pretty much boiling the shoes … everything that kind of holds the shoe together kind of comes apart,” Wood said.

Wood hit the pavement running despite temperatures that hit 128 (53 degrees C) this weekend in Death Valley.

Historically hot

The heat wave comes just a couple weeks before the 100th anniversary of what the National Weather Service calls the “highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth” — 134 degrees on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley’s Greenland Ranch.

The valley is consistently deemed the hottest location in the world because of its depth and shape. It has one of the world’s lowest elevations and also serves as one of the driest locations in North America. Its 11,000-foot surrounding mountain range traps and radiates heat down into it.

In the desert resort city of Palm Springs, California, the heat is good for business.

“We have more work than we can handle,” said Max Ghaly of Cathedral City Air Conditioning and Heating. “We’re running all over the place trying to do what we can.”

Worrying about tourists

Sgt. Troy Stirling, police spokesman in the Lake Havasu, Arizona, near the California state line, said he worries more about the tourists.

“I’m not worried as much about the people who have lived here a while,” he said.

“It’s more the tourists coming into the area, even from Southern California, who aren’t used to this kind of heat.”

The heat may have led to the death of an elderly man in Las Vegas. Paramedics found the man dead in his home, which did not have air conditioning, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said.

He died of cardiac arrest and the heat may have contributed to his death, although the coroner will make the final determination, Szymanski said.

Some advice

“The No. 1 thing is to absolutely know your limitations and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water,” Chris Stachelski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, advised those trying to cope with the high temperatures.

He recommended limiting time outdoors. For those who have to do any strenuous activity outside, he advises doing it in the early morning, evening or simply putting it off until the end of the week when the temperatures are lower.

Heat stroke symptoms include hallucinations, chills, confusion and dizziness, along with slurred speech.

To protect against heat stress, the CDC advises spending time in air-conditioned places, staying informed of heat warning and drinking lots of fluids.

Don’t forget the pets

The same advice goes for dogs, who can quickly develop heat stroke.

“Most of the time people didn’t realize — it certainly was not intentional — and they bring them in very quickly when they realize that there is a problem,” Brandi Garcia, a critical care specialist at Emergency Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Arizona, told CNN affiliate KNXV.

Just like with their human friends, dogs do best with plenty of water and limited exposure to the high temperatures. Also, asphalt can burn your pet’s paws.

A bit testy

All this talk of the heat is making some folks a bit testy.

“It’s so hot in Tucson. It’s so hot in Bisbee. It’s so hot in Sierra Vista. Ok we get it, it’s burning hot EVERYWHERE in Arizona!” tweeted Yoshi.

Despite the heat, the attitude is more chill than hot tempers back at Randy’s in Scottsdale.

Manager Orlowski tells his customers to look on the bright side.

“I like to tell them, ‘It’s okay, we don’t have to shovel this.’”

–CNN’s Tory Dunnan, Karen Smith, Melissa Gray, Greg Botelho, Joe Sutton, Michael Martinez and Michael Pearson contributed to this report.