Phoenix, Arizona, is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave, as scorching temperatures soared to at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) for the 19th consecutive day. This relentless and sweltering summer weather mirrors the suffering felt across the globe, as the combination of human-induced climate change and the emergence of a new El Niño phenomenon contribute to the shattering of heat records worldwide.
In this global context, the Phoenix region stands out among major metropolitan areas in the United States. Weather historian Christopher Burt from the Weather Company revealed that no other major city among the country’s 25 most populous has experienced a streak of 110-degree days or 90-degree nights as long as Phoenix.
While analyzing climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists Russ Vose and Ken Kunkel found no large cities with such an extended period of scorching temperatures. However, smaller locations like Death Valley and Needles, California, as well as Casa Grande, Arizona, have endured even longer streaks. Death Valley, for instance, has endured an astonishing 84-day stretch of 110-degree temperatures, along with a 47-day streak of nighttime temperatures refusing to dip below 90 degrees, according to Vose.
For Phoenix residents, the danger lies not only in the blistering daytime highs but also in the absence of nighttime relief. The lack of a cooldown period during the night deprives individuals without access to air conditioning of the crucial respite needed for their bodies to function properly in extreme heat.
Adding to the challenge, Tuesday’s low temperature of 94 degrees shattered another record, marking nine consecutive nights without temperatures dropping below 90 degrees. National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Salerno described this situation as “pretty miserable when you don’t have any recovery overnight.” On Monday, Phoenix set a new record for the hottest overnight low temperature, hitting 95 degrees (35 Celsius).
In response to the sweltering conditions, approximately 200 cooling and hydration centers have been established across the metro area to provide relief to residents. However, due to staffing and funding constraints, most of these centers are forced to close between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., limiting the availability of cooling facilities during the peak hours of heat.