Las Vegas Hits 120 Degrees, Threatens Economy

Pexels Antonio Janeski

Las Vegas broke the record for July 7. The mercury reached 120 degrees, breaking the 2017 figure of 116 degrees. It joins a small but growing list of large US cities that have become almost unlivable for part of the year. However, that period used to be counted in days per annum, which is changing. 

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Phoenix is the only large American city over 110 degrees F for an extended period. It set the record last year with 54 days during which the temperature was at or above that level. Temperatures did not drop below 90 degrees most nights. 

These cities are habitable for people living, working, and driving in air conditioning. However, Las Vegas has had large amounts of construction for businesses and residential work for a growing population. On days when the temperature is well above 100 degrees, construction work becomes dangerous, and building site activity slows or is shut down.


Las Vegas also has to deal with a large, impoverished, and, in some cases, homeless population. This becomes more difficult as the number of sweltering days rises. According to the Census, Las Vegas has a poverty rate of 14.1% in a city with 656,302 residents. The homeless population in the Las Vegas metro topped 16,000 last year and is surging. 

No American city has yet to struggle with a situation where heat draws so much energy that energy use hinders economic growth. At some point soon, however, there will be a tipping point.

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