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MCKENZIE LANGE/The Daily Sentinel

From left, Hunter Sowell, 13, Malakai Hegemann, 10, and Sylys Lawson, 4, play in the sand and water at the Highline Lake State Park swim beach in Loma on Thursday. Highline Lake will host the Alpha triathlon on Saturday, closing the west entrance to the park and limiting capacity.

A potentially record-breaking heat wave is set to hit the Grand Junction area starting this weekend.

A high-pressure ridge is predicted to come into the area and settle, causing temperatures to soar, according to National Weather Service Grand Junction meteorologist Kris Sanders.

The heat wave will really take off this weekend, Sanders said, with temperatures in the mid-90s predicted Saturday and in the 100s Sunday.

Then, early next week, temperatures will get to near record-breaking levels in the low 100s, Sanders said.

Highs are being forecasted to be around 103 degrees Monday, 106 degrees Tuesday and 104 degrees Wednesday, according to the NWS.

The record temperatures for those days are all in the low 100s, Sanders said, and 106 would equal the highest temperature ever recorded in Grand Junction.

The record for June is 105 degrees, Sanders said.

“We’ll definitely be contending with those next week,” he said.

The ridge could move on from the area later next week, Sanders said, but there’s no guarantee of that. There’s also very little cloud cover in the forecast, he said.

“It’s just looking very hot,” he said.

Directly under the high pressure ridge winds will be relatively low, Sanders said, which should keep fire danger relatively low compared to the high temperatures.

There were multiple red flag warnings for the Grand Junction area this week for severe fire weather. The National Weather Service’s website reported widespread critical fire weather conditions are expected for much of this week in western Colorado and eastern Utah.

Although the ridge doesn’t necessarily mean there will be severe fire danger during the heat wave, Sanders said, the high temps will cause more moisture to evaporate out of area plants and create more dry fuel for future fires.

“It’s kind of setting the stage for problems down the road,” Sanders said.

It’s also not helping the area’s drought, Sanders said.

“There’s very little moisture, if any, over the next seven days,” Sanders said. “So it’s kind of bad news all around.”

The heat wave is hitting the Grand Valley at a bad time for high school athletes with the schedule change to spring sports due to COVID-19.

There are still six outdoor high school sports that are currently involved in competition. A large track and field meet will be held at Stocker Stadium next Thursday and Friday.

Western United States

The first extreme heat wave of the year is set to sizzle in the Southwest next week, with temperatures topping 120 degrees in spots. Excessive heat watches and warnings already blanket parts of the west, The Washington Post reported.

The heat wave, predicted to last many days, will only intensify record-setting drought conditions plaguing many locations in the West.

Temperatures at least 20 degrees above average are possible for several days next week, and could persist even longer. Conditions this hot are “rare, dangerous and deadly,” wrote the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

The exceptional temperatures will bolster wildfire risk and exacerbate the potential for a long and significant fire season in the West as the heat saps more moisture from the ground.

Instigating the blazing temperatures is a ridge of high pressure currently centered over West Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico.

The “heat dome” will become established over the southwestern United States, bringing sinking air and high temperatures.

That sinking air will erode cloud cover, allowing more sunshine to pour in and heat the ground further.

The setup will also divert the jet stream well to the north, steering any inclement weather into the northern Intermountain West and Canada as much of the West bakes.

By the middle of next week, Phoenix could see multiple days at or above 116 degrees. The Salvation Army has announced plans to open cooling shelters throughout the Phoenix area, and other local agencies are likely to follow suit.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.