Historic heat wave hits Arizona

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Arizona is smashing records when it comes to our heat. Each of the past 17 days has reached or exceeded a high temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The all-time record for such a stretch stands at 18 days and was expected to be tied on Monday – and then exceeded it on Tuesday. Our normal temperature for this time of the year is 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We live in a hot climate, right? But it’s the unrelenting heat of those daytime highs of over 110 and overnight lows not even getting below 90 degrees,” said Tom Frieders, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Phoenix. “It’s just a large heat, high pressure dome that’s over the southwest U.S. that extends over California, Nevada, all the way to Texas, and records are being broken all across that region.”

A heat dome is a high pressure weather system compressing the air and preventing cloud coverage from forming. This is a big reason why the monsoon hasn’t started yet in Arizona as well, like it usually does around this time.

“There are seasons that we have seen in the past where the thunderstorm activity and rainfall was fairly limited; it just depends on how we can set that pattern up for an extended period of time. This year, it may go in where we get thunderstorms for awhile, they dry out, heat up again, and then another round of storms, but it’s definitely delayed.

Frieders is hopeful the slow-moving pattern of the monsoon coming from Mexico will begin to break off and move towards Phoenix in the coming weeks. Frieders also noted a late start to the monsoon won’t necessarily mean the monsoon lasts into the later part of the year; instead the wind patterns that typically change in October would still push the monsoon away.

Tom Frieders, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service Phoenix

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