Sizzling heat in Southwest U.S.

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Children play at a water park in Las Vegas, NV, USA, 20 June 2017 (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Excessive heat warnings have been posted in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico where record highs have been broken.

Las Vegas tied its record today of 47 C and Phoenix came close to its all-time high at 48 C.

Many flights have been delayed or cancelled since smaller jets can’t operate properly in dangerously hot conditions.

Temperatures have soared to 53 C in Death Valley, California which climbed to 56.7 C on 10 July 1913 – the hottest ever in North America.

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Wildfires rage in drought-plagued California

Wildfires in the hills of San Marcos, CA, USA, 16 May 2014 (Stuart Palley/EPA)

Wildfires in the hills of San Marcos, CA, USA, 16 May 2014 (Stuart Palley/EPA)

Firefighters in Southern California are gaining the upper hand on dozens of wildfires which have been burning mostly in San Diego County over the past several days thanks to cooler temperatures and lighter winds.

The American Southwest is tinder-dry thanks to little rain over the winter – which is traditionally the rainy season – and skyrocketing spring temperatures which have soared into the 40s Celsius.

California fire officials say dozens of homes and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed in the fires with numerous injuries but only one death reported so far.

The cause of the fires is being investigated but at least one was related to a spark from outdoor power equipment.

Snow falls in Texas, New Mexico

Snow El Paso, USA, 05 Dec 2011 (Vagalatos photo)

The first snow of the season fell in West Texas, USA yesterday dropping about 4 cm on the city of El Paso which straddles the border with Mexico.

My cousin, who lives in El Paso, sent me photos of the early winter wonderland.

Although El Paso is in the American Southwest, the city does occasionally see snow due to its high elevation.

The U.S. Weather Service notes El Paso receives about 16 cm of snow in an average winter although some storms have dropped large accumulations of 30 cm or more.

Snow also fell in neighbouring New Mexico where a major interstate highway was closed and temperatures dipped to as low as -15 C.