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Phoenix has ended 31-day streak of highs at or above 110 degrees as rains ease a Southwest heat wave


The sun sets over Phoenix, Sunday, July 30, 2023. AP

PHOENIX — A record string of daily highs of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Phoenix ended Monday as the dangerous heat wave that gripped the Southwest during July eased slightly with cooling monsoon showers.

Record heat began to batter the region in June, stretching from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona to the California desert. Phoenix and its suburbs sweltered longer and longer than most, holding several records, including 31 consecutive days of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.4 degrees Celsius). The previous record was 18 days in a row, set in 1974.

The streak was finally broken on Monday, when the maximum temperature reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 degrees Celsius) at 3:10 p.m.

“The high for Phoenix today is 108 degrees,” Jessica Leffel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said at 5 p.m.

“The record streak of 31 straight days of temperatures over 110 degrees has ended,” the weather service said on social media. “The high temperature at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport reached 108 degrees this afternoon, which is only 2 degrees above normal.”

The respite was expected to be brief, with the forecast calling for highs again above 110 for several days later in the week. And National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Hirsch said August could be even hotter than July.

But residents and visitors alike were taking what they could get.

“It’s not going to last more than a couple of days, but I’m enjoying this break,” said Christine Bertaux, 76, who was freshening up Monday at a senior homeless center day center.

“It’s been VERY hot in here!” said Jeffrey Sharpe, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was in town for a long weekend that Monday included watching his son’s two poodles frolic in a grassy dog ​​park. “But today it was about 85 degrees, more like Wisconsin.”

Phoenix also sweated for a record 16 straight days in which nighttime lows didn’t dip below 90 degrees (32.2 degrees Celsius), making it difficult for people to cool off after sunset.

In California, Death Valley, long considered the hottest place on Earth, flirted with some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in July, hitting 125.6 degrees Fahrenheit (52.5 Celsius) on September 16. July at the aptly named Furnace Creek.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet was 134 F (56.67 C) in July 1913 at Furnace Creek, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the body recognized as keeper of world records.

And in Nevada, also on July 16, Las Vegas briefly hit 116 degrees (46.6 degrees Celsius) to tie the record for that date set in 1998.

The heat in Phoenix began to ease slightly last week with the city’s first major storm since the monsoon season began on June 15.

The Southwestern heat wave was just one of the extreme weather events to hit the US in July. Fatal flash floods swept away people and cars in Pennsylvania, and days of flooding triggered dangerous mudslides in the Northeast.

At various points during the month, up to a third of Americans were under some type of heat advisory, watch or warning. While not as visually dramatic as other natural disasters, experts say heat waves are deadlier: Heat in parts of the South and Midwest killed more than a dozen people in June.

Rudy Soliz, who manages the center where Bertaux was cooling off, said those who visit to eat and cool off from the sun “have been having a very difficult time this summer.”

“The heat is more difficult for older people, there are many diabetics, people who take medication,” he said.

“The heat has been quite strong this summer. We made at least five 911 calls from here this July for people with heat stroke,” Soliz said. “They found a couple of bodies around here this month, but it’s still not clear if they died from the heat.”

Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous and home to Phoenix, reported 25 heat-related deaths this year through July 21. Another 249 deaths are listed as under investigation, and results of toxicology tests that can take weeks or months after an autopsy could lead to many being confirmed as heat-related.

Maricopa County reported 425 heat-associated deaths in all of 2022, with more than half in July.

R. Glenn Williamson, a businessman who was born in Canada but has lived in Phoenix for years, said he really noticed a temperature difference Monday morning while washing his car in his driveway.

“Now we have to get rid of the moisture!” Williamson said. “But honestly, I’d rather have this heat than a winter in Montreal.”


July continues to sizzle as Phoenix hits another 110 degree day and wildfires rage in California

Day and night, Phoenix swelters in record-breaking heat for American cities

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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