The temperature in Death Valley reaches 128 Fahrenheit

A motorcycle tour in Death Valley turns into a disaster when the thermometer reaches 128 degrees.

As the temperature rose Saturday to a record 128 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley National Park, a group of motorcyclists became upset by the extreme heat, and one of them died, a park ranger said.

According to park ranger Nicole Andler, the bikers were riding through the park near Badwater Basin, a stretch of salt flats also the lowest point in North America, when they reported being affected by extreme heat in the mid-to-late afternoon.

One passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, while another person suffering from severe heat illness was transported to Las Vegas, Andler said. Four others in the group were treated and released.

The name of the deceased motorcyclist or any other identifying information has not been released, Andler said, and the coroner will determine the specific cause of death.

The guard noted: "Yesterday, the temperature was 128 degrees, which was a record for that day in Death Valley, and these people were traveling on motorcycles, and they most likely did not have enough cooling."

The heat also hampered rescue efforts. When temperatures exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a medical helicopter cannot reach the park. Air expands when heated, becoming thinner than cold air. Therefore, helicopters cannot obtain the necessary lift for flight.

But in addition to park rangers, first responders from Inyo County and the neighboring city of Pahrump, Nevada, assisted the bikers, Andler said.

Saturday's temperature was close to Death Valley's all-time heat record — 134 degrees- on July 10, 1913. Since record-keeping began in 1911, temperatures have reached or exceeded 130 degrees only thrice — with two of those coming—those times since 2020: August 16, 2020, and again on July 9, 2021.

Each year, at least one to three people die from heat-related illnesses while visiting the park, and each week, there are one to three calls for medical help due to heat-related stress.

"People get excited to experience the warmer temperatures they've ever experienced before, and sometimes they forget that if they were hot an hour ago and start feeling nauseous, they need to spend the rest of the day in the air conditioning — because that could be the first sign of heat illness," Andler said. "If you warm up and don't cool down properly, your body doesn't get a chance to reset itself."

Elsewhere in Southern California, heat broke records and paralyzed communities.

On Sunday, both Palmdale and Lancaster set record highs for that date—Palmdale saw a high of 114 degrees, surpassing the record of 110 degrees set in 1989. In Lancaster, Sunday's temperature surpassed the record of 110 degrees set in 1989 and 2017.

The National Weather Service said extreme heat would continue this week across the Southland, with maximum temperatures ranging from 105 to 115 degrees in inland valleys, mountains, and deserts.

The extreme heat warning for the western San Gabriel Mountains, Antelope Valley, Angeles Crest Highway, and Interstates 5 and 14 corridors has been extended until 9 p.m. Thursday.

According to the weather service, another extreme heat warning was issued on Wednesday for the Santa Clarita Valley, Santa Monica Mountains, Calabasas, San Fernando Valley, and eastern San Gabriel Mountains, where temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees.

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