Extreme heat facts and tips for coping in Phoenix.
Weldon B. Johnson/azcentral.com
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The heat can kill. When temperatures outside reach 100 degrees, temperatures inside a car can get up to 138 degrees in 5 minutes and 150 degrees in 15 minutes. Here are ideas on how to reduce the risk of forgetting about a child or pet in a hot car.
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It’s a dry heat, right? Not necessarily – find out what other misconceptions people have about our weather in the Valley of the Sun.
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The Salvation Army has set up heat-relief stations around the Valley, providing water and sometimes sunscreen for people out and about in the high temperatures. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
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Extreme heat facts and tips for coping in Phoenix
What you shouldn’t leave in your hot car
5 myths about Phoenix’s high temperatures
Salvation Army provides heat relief in Phoenix area
It’s so hot here for so long that many people take it for granted.
It’s hot in the summer, it’s going to be hot every summer — and there’s nothing we can do about it. So why worry?
But even here in the hottest big city in America, there are the others — the ones who can’t let the question melt away.
These are the people who ask, “Why?”
Why is Phoenix so hot?
High temperatures in the summer months routinely top 100 degrees and on rare occasions can creep beyond 120 degrees.
SEE ALSO: 5 popular myths about Phoenix heat
July has the hottest average high temperature (106.1 degrees compared to 103.9 in June), but the summer heat gets cranked up in late June.
Three of the four hottest days on record in Phoenix — including the all-time high of 122 degrees on June 26, 1990 — have occurred in June.
Many factors contribute to the region’s sweltering climate, but we’ll boil it down to five.
Arizona is relatively close to the equator and, as a result, receives a lot of the sun’s energy, particularly at this time of year.
We’re approaching the summer solstice (June 20), the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.
Days are longer during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the tilt of the earth on its axis as it rotates around the sun. Those longer days offer more opportunity for things to heat up.
The Phoenix area is only about 1,000 feet above sea level. Other parts of the state have the same desert landscape as Phoenix, and many of those places are farther south and closer to the equator.
But many of those places are at a higher elevation and therefore cooler.
Tucson, which has an elevation of about 2,300 feet is on average 3.6 degrees cooler than Phoenix in June.
3. High pressure
That big H you see on a weather map represents high air pressure. It’s often behind Phoenix’s big June heat waves.
There’s a pretty persistent area of high pressure that generally hangs around the Southwest, which is a big factor in our sunny climate.
Because high pressure often results in clear, dry conditions, it contributes to Phoenix’s extreme heat.
In simple terms, long, sunny days at this time of year mean there is more time for heating up and less time for overnight cooling.
4. The dry heat
June is the driest month of the year in Phoenix, with only .02 of an inch of rain on average.
The dry air contributes to the extreme temperatures often experienced late in the month before the onset of the monsoon.
And the lack of humidity means it takes less energy for the sun to heat up the same volume of dry air than it does air with more moisture.
5. Urban heat island
The urban heat island is a term used to describe the fact that concrete, asphalt and buildings in metro areas hold on to heat more than non-developed areas.
Development, particularly in the past 30 to 40 years, has caused temperatures, especially overnight lows, to increase.
According to the National Weather Service, the average overnight low for Phoenix in June 2016 was 82.1 degrees, which tied the record for that statistic set in 2015. That’s 4.4 degrees above normal.
Those warm nights also allowed June 2016 to tie June 2013 for the warmest average temperature (taking the average high and low and dividing by two) on record.
All five of the warmest Junes on record have occurred since 2006.
For more detail:Why is Phoenix so hot?
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