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First day of summer brings hottest temperatures for years in US south west

The first day of summer brought some of the worst heat the south-western US has seen in years, forcing flights to be cancelled and straining the power grid as temperatures reached 120F (48.8C) and higher in some desert cities.

Arizona, Nevada and California had dramatic temperatures on Tuesday as researchers said deadly heatwaves were going to become more frequent.

Meteorologists in Phoenix said the temperature peaked at 119F (48.3C), which has only been matched or surpassed four times.

Death Valley in California reached 125F (51.6C) and Palm Springs hit 121F (49.4C), still a degree lower than the same day last year.

The operator of California's power grid called on people to conserve electricity during peak hours.

Las Vegas also baked. Visitors tried to stay inside air-conditioned casinos, and some tourists lugged packs of bottled water around the Strip.

Others went to a bar where the temperature is set at 23F (minus 5C) and glasses, walls and seats are sculpted from ice.

Phoenix has hit 120F (48.8C) only three times in recorded history. The record was 122F (50C) on June 26 1990.

In addition to grounding more than 40 flights of smaller planes, airlines have been taking other measures on larger jets to reduce their weight. American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said the carrier began limiting sales on some flights to prevent the planes from exceeding maximum weight for safe take-off in the hot conditions.

AP

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