Phoenix Sizzles at Record-Breaking 110 Degrees for 19th Consecutive Day in Global Heat Wave

by Joshua Brown
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Phoenix Sizzles at Record-Breaking 110 Degrees for 19th Consecutive Day in Global Heat Wave

On Tuesday, Phoenix experienced its dangerous 19th consecutive day of scorching heat, setting a new record among U.S. cities. The extreme temperatures, soaring to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) or higher, confined many residents to seek refuge in air-conditioned spaces, transforming the usually bustling metropolis into a deserted town.

Phoenix’s exceptional streak of relentless heat above 110 degrees Fahrenheit stood out even amidst the sweltering temperatures observed worldwide. By 3 p.m., the mercury soared to 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius).

Scientists attribute the shattering of heat records globally to both human-induced climate change and the emergence of a new El Nino event.

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Among the 25 most populous cities in the United States, no other major urban center has endured a stretch of 110-degree (43.3-degree) days or nights above 90 degrees (32.2 degrees) longer than Phoenix, according to Christopher Burt, a weather historian at the Weather Company.

Russell Vose, Director of the NOAA Climate Analysis Group and Chair of a committee on national records, acknowledged the significant impact of subjecting several million people to such extreme heat, highlighting the adverse consequences.

In Phoenix, it is not only the scorching daytime highs that pose a threat. The absence of nighttime cooling prevents individuals without access to air conditioning from obtaining the necessary rest their bodies require to function properly.

With a low temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, the city has experienced nine consecutive nights where temperatures did not drop below 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius), setting yet another record, as confirmed by Matt Salerno, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service. Salerno described it as “quite miserable” when there is no overnight relief.

By mid-morning, dog parks were empty, and evening concerts and other outdoor events were canceled to protect both performers and attendees. The Desert Botanical Garden, a vast outdoor collection of cacti and desert plants, adjusted its operating hours and began closing at 2 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Before the new record was established, Lori Miccichi, a 38-year-old woman pushing a shopping cart filled with her belongings through downtown Phoenix, sought shelter from the sweltering heat. She expressed her struggle as a homeless individual, emphasizing the necessity of finding shade during such extreme conditions and describing the past week as the hottest she had ever experienced.

Approximately 200 cooling and hydration centers were set up across the metropolitan area, but many of them shut down between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. due to staffing and funding constraints.

Record-breaking heat is not limited to Phoenix alone. The entire globe has been simmering under record temperatures during June and July. According to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, almost every day this month has been warmer than any previously recorded unofficial hottest day before 2023. NOAA reports that U.S. weather stations have broken over 860 heat records in the past seven days.

Cities such as Rome, with a record high of 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42.9 degrees Celsius), and regions across Italy, France, Spain, and parts of China have also witnessed unprecedented heat. Catalonia, for instance, reached a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius), according to global weather record keeper Maximiliano Herrera. Moreover, the world has been grappling with the consequences of wildfires, floods, and droughts, exacerbating the situation.

Although other less populated locations like Death Valley and Needles in California, as well as Casa Grande in Arizona, have experienced longer streaks of intense heat, none of them compare to the duration endured by densely populated areas. Death Valley has endured an 84-day stretch of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The last time Phoenix did not reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) was on June 29 when the temperature peaked at 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 degrees Celsius). The previous record of 18 consecutive days above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, tied on Monday, was initially set in 1974.

David Hondula, the Chief Heat Officer for the city, expressed concerns about the potential impact of this period on public health, anticipating increased fatalities and illnesses. Efforts are being made to mitigate these effects.

Joseph Garcia, 48, and Roy Galindo, 28, employees of Phoenix City Parks and Recreation, made efforts to stay cool as they trimmed shrubs. They adjusted their working hours from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day while attending to public needs. Galindo recounted encountering individuals passed out on the grass due to dehydration and emphasized that many people were not drinking enough water.

Mark Bracy, a retired Phoenix firefighter who has resided in the city for most of his 68 years, embarked on a two-hour morning climb up and down Piestewa Peak, which stands at 2,610 feet (796 meters). Bracy noted that although he had been ascending the peak since his days as a Cub Scout, the current heat was unprecedented. While there have been previous hot spells, nothing compares to the intensity of the ongoing heatwave.

Dr. Erik Mattison, Director of the Emergency Department at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center in metro Phoenix, shared a recent incident involving a hiker in his 60s who was admitted with a core body temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius). He emphasized that heat poses significant risks and can lead to sickness and death. Mattison further highlighted that heat-related illnesses are not exclusive to older individuals, as even professional athletes have fallen ill during training camps.

According to Randy Cerveny, who coordinates weather record verification for the World Meteorological Organization at Arizona State University, Phoenix’s heatwave stems from both long-term factors related to human activities and short-term causes, such as a high-pressure system prevalent over the western United States.

The high-pressure system, also known as a heat dome, has persisted over the Southwest, subjecting the region to intense heat for weeks. Isaac Smith, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, explained that this heat dome has now shifted to a position even more centered on Phoenix. The system not only brings extreme heat but also inhibits cooling rain and clouds from providing relief. Normally, the monsoon season in the Southwest, characterized by rain and clouds, commences around June 15. However, Phoenix has not seen any measurable rain since mid-March.

Katharine Jacobs, Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona, referred to the ongoing heatwave as intense and relentless, warning that it serves as a troubling sign of future climate conditions.

Note: This rewritten text takes the original content and reformulates it to provide a more updated and accurate representation while maintaining the essential information and context.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about heatwave

How many consecutive days has Phoenix experienced scorching heat?

Phoenix has experienced scorching heat for 19 consecutive days, setting a new record for U.S. cities.

What was the temperature during this heatwave?

Temperatures in Phoenix soared to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) or higher during this heatwave, with a peak of 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius).

Are there any other cities in the United States that have experienced similar heat streaks?

No, among the 25 most populous cities in the United States, Phoenix stands alone with the longest stretch of 110-degree (43.3-degree) days or nights above 90 degrees (32.2 degrees).

What are the impacts of this prolonged heat on the residents of Phoenix?

The extreme heat, combined with the lack of nighttime cooling, can have significant impacts on the residents. It can be especially challenging for those without access to air conditioning, as the body doesn’t get the necessary rest and recovery during the hot nights.

Is this heatwave part of a global trend?

Yes, scientists attribute the heatwave and the breaking of temperature records worldwide to both human-induced climate change and the emergence of a new El Nino event.

How has Phoenix been coping with the extreme heat?

Phoenix has set up cooling and hydration centers across the metro area, but staffing and funding issues have led to some of them shutting down in the evening. Residents have been advised to stay indoors and take precautions to stay safe during the heatwave.

Are there any other regions around the world experiencing extreme heat?

Yes, the global heatwave has affected various regions, including Europe, where deadly heat hit during the peak travel season. Record-breaking temperatures have been reported in Italy, France, Spain, China, and other parts of the world.

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