/ Modified jun 16, 2021 9:04 p.m.

Heat wave grips US West amid fear of a new, hotter normal

It's raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought.

Hot heat sun temperature cactus saguaro The highest temperature ever recorded in Tucson was 117 degrees, in 1990.
Nick O'Gara, AZPM

An unusually early and long-lasting heat wave has brought more triple-digit temperatures to a large swath of the U.S. West.

It's raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought.

Phoenix is seeing some of the highest temperatures this week, expecting to hit 115 degrees Wednesday and 117 the next two days.

Scientists who study drought and climate change say that people living in the American West can expect more of the same in the coming years.

Cooling centers opened in Tucson and the San Francisco Bay Area, people flocked to a lake in Denver amid expected triple-digit heat, and hot weather made it tougher to fight wildfires in Montana.

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