Hotter Temperatures in Phoenix

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New research by Phoenix National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Iñiguez shows the heat in Phoenix is starting earlier and lasting longer. Iñiguez will discuss his research.

TED SIMONS: PHOENIX BROKE A HUNDRED DEGREES AT SKY HARBOR. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR THIS DATE WAS 98- DEGREES BACK IN 2001. THIS IS ALSO THE LATEST DATE FOR A 100-DEGREE HIGH IN PHOENIX. THE PREVIOUS MARK WAS SET ON OCTOBER 23, 2003. AND THE NORMAL HIGH FOR TODAY, 84 DEGREES/ THE ALL OF WHICH RAISES THE QUESTION: WHAT THE HECK'S GOING ON? FOR ANSWERS, WE TURN TO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGIST PAUL INIGUEZ. WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON.

PAUL INIGUEZ: HELLO.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. READY FOR QUESTIONS?

PAUL INIGUEZ: I WILL DO MY BEST.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IS GOING ON?

PAUL INIGUEZ: WE HAVE A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON HERE IN PHOENIX WHICH ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE HEAT THAT COMES IN EARLIER AND DOES STAY LATER. THAT IS BORNE OUT BY THE STATISTICS. THERE IS DIFFERENT WAYS. THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IS THE URBANIZATION THAT TAKES PLACE. EARLIER YOU SAID YOU HAVE BEEN HERE OFF AND ON SINCE THE '70s. WE SEE THAT SHOWING UP IN THE DATA THAT THE URBANIZATION, ALL THE CONCRETE, ASPHALT, TAKES IN ALL THAT SOLAR ENERGY DURING THE DAY AND REALLY HANGS ON TO IT AT NIGHT. SO PEOPLE REALLY NOTICE STUFF AT NIGHT. THE TEMPERATURES, LOWS IN THE 90s EVERY SUMMER AND THAT DIDN'T USED TO HAPPEN, WAS NOT COMMON AT ALL AND NOW IT HAPPENS WITHOUT FAIL.

TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE THE TEMPERATURES ARE NOT SKYROCKETING. THE HIGHS ARE THE SAME BUT THE NIGHTTIME LOW IS GETTING HIGHER.

PAUL INIGUEZ: THE SIGNAL WITH URBANIZATION IS SEEING THE OVERNIGHT TEMPERATURES BEING PUSHED UP BUT WITH THE DAYTIME HIGH WE SEE IT. AND WE HAVE REGIONAL WARMING AND THE PLANET AS A WHOLE IS WARMING. BUT YOU DON'T SEE THOSE BIG TEMPERATURES LIKE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. THE ALL-TIME HIGH IS 122 SET IN 1990, THAT WAS 26 YEARS AGO THAT HAPPENED. SO WE ARE NOT CONTINUING TO CLIMB. IT ISN'T LIKE WE WILL HIT 140 NEXT SUMMER. BUT WHAT WE SEE IS A MORE BROADENING OF THE HEAT SEASON WITH THE HEAT COMING IN EARLIER, STAYING LATER AND CONSISTENTLY DOING THAT OVER TIME.

TED SIMONS: WHY ARE THE HIGHER TEMPERATURES, THE WARMER TEMPERATURES STARTING EARLIER? I CAN MAYBE UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE LASTING LONGER BECAUSE THE LATENT HEAT AND ALL THAT BUT IT IS STARTING EARLIER AS WELL, CORRECT?

PAUL INIGUEZ: RIGHT. SO THAT IS PART OF THE REGIONAL SIGNAL WE ARE SEEING IN THERE. SO THE SOUTHWEST DEFINITELY HAS AN UPWARD TREND IN TEMPERATURES AND THAT IS WHAT WE EXPECT WITH THE PROJECTIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE. THESE PROJECTIONS HAVE BEEN -- CLIMATE SCIENTISTS WERE MAKING THIS GUEST YEARS AGO. 2015 WAS THE WARMEST ON RECORD. WE DID NOT HAVE THE LOCALLY HOTTEST YEAR IN PHOENIX BUT RIGHT NOW WE ARE ON PACE FOR TOP FIVE FOR 2016. WE ARE BUMPING UP TOWARD THE TOP.

TED SIMONS: GLOBAL WARMING, REGIONAL WARMING, LOCAL WARMING. WILL ANY OF THE WARMING EASE? IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THE TREND IS GOING IN ONE DIRECTION.

PAUL INIGUEZ: WHY WOULD IT? THERE IS NO REASON TO SEE THAT HAPPENING. THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD OUT AND THERE IS A LOT OF GOOD RESEARCH GOING ON WITH FOLKS AT ARIZONA STATE LOOKING AT THE MATERIALS AND THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO MAKE OUR CITIES AND COMMUNITIES COOLER BUT THAT COST MONEY AND THEY COST A BIT MORE. THAT IS OUTSIDE OF MY EXPERTISE BUT THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN DO TO MITIGATE THE IMPACT THE SUN HAS. BUT OUTSIDE OF THAT THE ATMOSPHERE IS TAKING UP MORE AND MORE CARBON, THAT IS A NEWS WORTHY ITEM. THE MINIMUM CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE FOR THIS YEAR, WE HAVE THE MINIMUM AND IT IS 401 PARTS PER MILLION AND THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE HAD THE MINIMUM ABOVE THE 400 THRESHOLD AND CONTINUE TO CLIMB, IT'S BEEN DOING THIS FOR DECADES NOW.

TED SIMONS: DO WE NOW EXPECT TO SEE A SHORTER SPRING? A LONGER SUMMER? A SHORTER FALL?

PAUL INIGUEZ: I DON'T SEE WHY THIS DOESN'T CONTINUE. WE HAVE THE HEAT SEASON SLOWLY BUILDING OUT AND MORE OF THOSE REALLY WARM TEMPERATURES. RIGHT NOW IT IS MOSTLY UNPLEASEANT FOR US. WE HATE IT AND WANT THE FALL TO COME IN. WE ARE SICK OF SUMMER, WE'VE BEEN DEALING WITH IT FOR FIVE, SIX MONTHS. WE WANT IT TO COOL TOWN AND ENJOY EVENINGS AND AFTERNOONS FOR PUTTING UP WITH THE SUMMER. BUT THE HEAT HAS AN EXTREMELY REAL IMPACT DURING THE SUMMER WHERE IT IS DEADLY. WE HAVE A LOT OF DEATHS AND MORTALITY THAT TAKES PLACE. YOU LOOK AT STATISTICS FROM THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT WE HAD UPWARDS OF 90 PEOPLE DIE FROM HEAT IN JUST MARICOPA COUNTY THIS YEAR. YOU DON'T HEAR ABOUT THAT. YOU HEAR ABOUT THE HIKERS BUT THAT IS A LOT OF PEOPLE. HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE FROM LIGHTNING STRIKES AND FLASH FLOODS OR DUST STORMS NOT AS MUCH.

TED SIMONS: DOING YARD WORK OR GARDENING AND YOU CAN TELL IT IS NOT THE SAME.

PAUL INIGUEZ: RIGHT. YOU LOOK AT THE STATISTICS AND THE FOLKS THAT FALL TO THE HEAT. IT IS FOLKS THAT LIVE HERE A LONG TIME AND THEY EXERTING THEMSELVES AND NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE SIGNALS.

TED SIMONS: IS THIS A SELF-PERPETUATING SITUATION?

PAUL INIGUEZ: IT IS JUST GOING TO KEEP GOING. ABSOLUTELY NOT TO SAY WE WILL NEVER GET COLD OR ANYTHING BUT YOU KNOW, WE CAN STILL GET LOW FREEZING. IT IS PRETTY RARE THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS BUT IT CAN. THOSE ARE WEATHER FLUCTUATIONS. TODAY WAS A HUNDRED DEGREE DAY AND THAT IS WEATHER. BUT IT BECOMES A DATA POINT AND WE LOOK AT THE TRENDS AND THAT IS WHAT WE SEE. THE CLIMATE IS PUNCTUATED BY THE WEATHER. SO THERE'S GONNA BE PERIODS WHERE IT IS COLD. SO WE MIGHT GET TO SOME POINT WHERE WE SEE SNOWFLAKES DOWNTOWN, IT COULD STILL HAPPEN. BUT WE WILL KEEP SEEING IT WARMING UP. THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO EXPECT THAT TO HAPPEN.

TED SIMONS: DOES THE RADICAL STUFF, THE SNOWFLAKES IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX, INCREASE AS TEMPERATURES INCREASE?

PAUL INIGUEZ: FOR STUFF LIKE THAT IT IS SO DEPENDENT UPON THE WEATHER, THE SHORT-TERM FLUCTUATIONS OF THE ATMOSPHERE, SO IT IS HARD TO DRAW STATISTICS OFF THAT. IF YOU LOOK AT THE MONSOON SEASONS THERE IS NOT ANY STRONG TRENDS IN PRECIPITATION. PERHAPS A DOWNWARD TREND BUT THE TEMPERATURE TRENDS ARE DOMINATING.

TED SIMONS: AND WE HAVE A LA NINA COMING UP FOR THIS WINTER MEANING WARM AND DRY?

PAUL INIGUEZ: A WEAK LA NINA SO THE ODDS FAVOR IT BEING WARMER THAN AVERAGE AS A WHOLE FOR THE WINTER AND DRIER THAN NORMAL BUT IT DOESN'T MEAN THE OPPOSITE WOULD HAPPEN.

Ted: LAST WINTER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EL NINO AND THAT WASN'T.

PAUL INIGUEZ: FOR THE SOUTHWEST IT WASN'T. WE HAD A STRONG EL NINO IN PLACE AND EXPECTING IT TO BE WET BECAUSE THAT IS THE KNOWLEDGE AND STATISTICS TELL US BUT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. MANY OTHER PARTS OF THE PLANET HAD IMPACTS FROM THE STRONG EL NINO BUT DIDN'T HAPPEN HERE. WE'RE TRYING TO PREDICT THE FUTURE AND YOU'RE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT WHEN YOU TRY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE.

TED SIMONS: GOOD JOB WITH RESEARCH REGARDING WHAT WE FIGURE OUT AND THAT IS IT GETS HOTTER EARLIER AND LASTS LONGER. GOOD TO YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

PAUL INIGUEZ: THANK YOU.

Phoenix National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Iñiguez

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