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West Coast heat wave threatens to bring major flight delays

A record-breaking heat wave coming to the West Coast could bring major flight delays with it, 9News reported.

Temperatures in Phoenix are expected to come close to the all-time high of 122 degrees on Sunday and Monday for the first time since 1990, 9News said. Temperatures in Denver are expected to linger near the low 100s. Planes have issues operating at such temperatures, as wings and engines tend to struggle during take-off, NBC aviation analyst Gregory Feith told 9News.

"As the temperature goes up, the density altitude, or the molecules in the air, go down, and the aircraft is not as efficient," Feith told 9News. "Even if you have a 12,000[-foot] runway, that may not be sufficient amount of runway for the airplane to take off because the wings can't generate enough lift and the engines can't generate enough thrust."

Small, general aviation planes and business jets have a lower heat threshold, around the low 100s to 115 degrees, Feith told 9News, and are more subject to take-off issues.

Read the entire 9News report