Day and night Phoenix has sweltered from heat that will break a record for American cities

by Chloe Baker
1 comment
Phoenix heatwave

Phoenix, known as the Valley of the Sun, has been enduring an unprecedented heatwave, poised to break a record for major U.S. cities. For 19 consecutive days, the desert city has witnessed scorching temperatures surpassing 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) or higher.

Even during a summer marked by record-breaking temperatures globally, Phoenix’s extended period of blistering heat stands out. Experts assert that the situation in this metropolitan area poses a severe health risk, far exceeding a short-lived spike in temperature.

The relentless heatwave, with its sweltering nights, offers little respite. On Monday, Phoenix experienced its highest-ever overnight low of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), surpassing the previous record of 93 degrees Fahrenheit (33.8 degrees Celsius) set in 2009. This marked the eighth consecutive day with temperatures staying above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius), setting yet another record.

According to Matt Salerno, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, the absence of overnight recovery makes the situation “pretty miserable.”

The causes of Phoenix’s heatwave are both short-term and long-term. Randy Cerveny, from Arizona State University, who coordinates weather record verification for the World Meteorological Organization, explains that the long-term cause is the continuous rise in temperatures due to human influence on climate. Meanwhile, the short-term cause is the persistence of an intense upper-level ridge of high pressure, commonly known as a heat dome, over the western United States in recent weeks.

The high pressure system, acting as a heat dome, has been relentlessly affecting the entire southern U.S., shattering temperature records from California to Florida. This global heatwave has resulted in the hottest summer ever recorded.

In addition to the heatwave’s duration, Phoenix faces the adverse effects of the urban heat island effect, exacerbating the situation for certain communities. Areas with fewer trees and greenspaces, such as predominantly Hispanic and historically Black neighborhoods, experience higher temperatures. These heat disparities disproportionately impact people of color and low-income individuals.

Heatwaves pose a significant danger, particularly to vulnerable groups such as the homeless, outdoor workers, and individuals lacking proper air conditioning. Older people and those with underlying health conditions struggle to stay hydrated and endure extreme heat.

In Indian Country, the lack of running water and air conditioning on reservations, where approximately 30% of the population resides, further exacerbates the challenges. These communities often lack proximity to cooling centers, highlighting the unfair burden placed on them, despite their minimal contribution to greenhouse gas concentrations.

The ongoing heatwave in Phoenix has prompted concerns about increased fatalities and illnesses, prompting David Hondula, the City of Phoenix’s chief heat officer, to prioritize prevention.

The climate data reveals a disturbing trend in Phoenix’s rising temperatures. Since 1983, the city has seen an average increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) in daily summer temperatures, a 3.2-degree Fahrenheit (1.8 degrees Celsius) rise in daily high temperatures, and a 4.4-degree Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) increase in nighttime lows, as reported by NOAA.

The combination of climate change and urban heating exacerbates the frequency and intensity of heatwaves in the region, warns Isaac Smith, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

Amidst the heatwave, Arizona State University researchers are conducting a study on Edison-Eastlake, a historically Black and currently majority Latino neighborhood, known for its extreme temperatures. This study aims to assess whether redevelopment efforts can mitigate the impact of extreme heat on residents. Results from the ongoing study have not been released.

Awareness of the disproportionate impacts of heatwaves on certain communities prompts the need for targeted interventions and collective action to alleviate the effects of extreme heat.

For more climate and environment news, visit https://bigbignews.net/climate-and-environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about heatwave

What is the current situation in Phoenix regarding temperatures?

Phoenix is currently experiencing a record-breaking heatwave with scorching temperatures persisting for 19 consecutive days. The city has seen temperatures soaring to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) or higher, posing severe health risks.

How are the nights affected by the heatwave in Phoenix?

Even at night, Phoenix offers little relief from the brutal temperatures. The city recently recorded its highest-ever overnight low of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). This prolonged period of high nighttime temperatures hampers recovery and exacerbates the health risks associated with the heatwave.

Are the heatwave and temperature records in Phoenix connected to climate change?

Yes, scientists attribute the heatwave and rising temperature records in Phoenix to climate change. The persistence of high temperatures in recent decades, along with human influence on climate, contribute to the long-term increase in temperatures. The current heatwave is further intensified by a strong upper-level ridge of high pressure over the western United States.

Who is most vulnerable during this heatwave?

Vulnerable groups, including the homeless, outdoor workers, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions, face the highest risk during heatwaves. Lack of access to adequate cooling, hydration, and healthcare can make it challenging for these individuals to withstand prolonged periods of extreme heat.

How does the urban heat island effect impact certain communities in Phoenix?

The urban heat island effect, exacerbated by the lack of trees and greenspaces in certain neighborhoods, disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income areas. Predominantly Hispanic and historically Black neighborhoods experience higher temperatures, amplifying the heat-related challenges faced by these communities.

What measures are being taken to address the heatwave’s impact in Phoenix?

Efforts are being made to mitigate the impacts of extreme heat in Phoenix. Researchers are studying redevelopment strategies in neighborhoods like Edison-Eastlake to evaluate if they can alleviate the effects of extreme heat on residents. Additionally, there is a growing awareness of the need for targeted interventions and collective action to protect vulnerable communities and adapt to rising temperatures.

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1 comment

JohnSmith July 18, 2023 - 7:02 pm

wow this heatwave in phoenix is just crazy! record-breaking temps for 19 days in a row?! it’s def not good for ppl’s health! we need to do smth abt climate change!


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