A record-breaking heatwave is gripping the southwest of the US.

Over the past few days California, Arizona and northern Mexico have seen temperatures soar, as an area of high pressure holds in place across the region.

This high pressure has ensured clear skies, light winds and low humidity, all factors that have helped to boost temperatures.

On Sunday, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona soared to 47.8C, the fifth highest temperature ever reported in the city of 1.5 million people.

According to the website www.geoclimat.org, the highest temperature recorded on Sunday was 52.8C in Piedra, Arizona. It was the highest temperature measured anywhere on Earth so far in 2016.

While the heat dipped sightly in Phoenix on Monday, the city of Prescott saw temperatures soar to 40.5C in the hottest day on record in the city.

Temperatures on Monday were also on the rise across southern California, breaking daily temperature records in a number of locales.

The high temperatures have sparked a new series of wildfires. Towering columns of smoke rose from the San Gabriel Mountains northwest of Los Angeles, as two fires burned less than two miles apart.

Fortunately firefighters are making progress against an older wildfire which has been burning for nearly a week to the west of Santa Barbara. Most of the mandatory evacuations are expected to be lifted on Wednesday morning and nearly all by Saturday.

It is hoped that the worst of the heatwave is now over, but the temperatures are not expected to drop much over the next few days. Phoenix is expecting a maximum temperature of 45C on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Later this week, however, a small amount of moisture will begin to drift across the region. This will bring temperatures down, but will also increase the humidity, making conditions continue to feel extremely uncomfortable.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies