Unbroken 25-Year Record Reveals Las Vegas as America’s Second Fastest Warming City


On this very day, a quarter-century past, the city of Las Vegas, Nevada etched its name into history’s grand narrative of meteorological firsts. On June 4, 1999, the city’s mercury dipped to a record low of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, a frosty notch that surpassed the previous record of 54 degrees set in 1951. This momentous event has proven far from mundane as, in the intervening twenty-five years, the record has remained unbroken, a testament to the city’s ever-warming climate.

Las Vegas, the epitomous playground of excess in the arid heart of Nevada, has been meticulous in its meteorological records, maintained diligently at the airport since 1948. Despite seeing two instances when prior records were equaled – April 15, 2009, and August 3, 2014 – not a single record has crumbled under the chill in the entirety of the 21st century.

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The narrative takes a surprising turn when acknowledging nighttime temperatures from June through August. Since the turn of the new millennium, the desert city has not experienced a single night wherein the temperature slipped below 59 degrees—a testament, according to the National Weather Service, of the shifting climate.

Is an alarm bell ringing? Perhaps, but alarm bells tend to go unnoticed amidst the baccarat tables and blitzed-out slot machines. And yet, the clamor for climate change awareness has never been louder. Half of the Las Vegas’ record high temperatures have been set post 2000. The city is currently engulfed in an excessive heat warning as temperatures sizzle toward, and potentially beyond, the 110-degree mark.

This seemingly apocalyptic weather pattern is no coincidence; it’s a direct impact of human-made climate change. Hazardous heat will broil regions spanning from the Western US, to Mexico, and into Eastern Canada from June 5th through 7th. Such patterns are estimated to be three times more likely due to humanity’s incessant tampering with Mother Nature.

It is a grim reality that if Wednesday’s heat in Las Vegas hits that anticipated 110 degrees, it will be the earliest such temperature has been recorded in the city, outpacing the average July 1 arrival of such sweltering conditions.

Since 1970, Las Vegas has experienced an increase in average temperature of 5.8 degrees, making it America’s second-fastest warming city, outdone only by Reno, Nevada that has seen a heat increase of 10.9 degrees over the same period.

Sadly, there’s nothing to suggest these temperature increases will slow down. The repercussions could be devastating: altered water cycles could leave the Colorado River devoid of its snowmelt and Lake Mead bereft of its water source. The escalating temperatures could potentially worsen human health conditions, threaten native wildlife, and fan the flames of more frequent, notorious wildfires.