After a scorching July that brought relentless heat and soaring temperatures, the record-breaking daily highs over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix have finally come to an end. Cooling monsoon rains have brought some relief to the Southwest, putting an end to the dangerous heat wave that had gripped the region.
Starting in June, the historic heat wave extended across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and even California’s desert regions. However, Phoenix and its suburbs experienced the worst of it, enduring an unprecedented stretch of scorching weather. In fact, the city broke records with a staggering 31 consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. This surpassed the previous record of 18 straight days set back in 1974.
Fortunately, Monday brought some respite as the temperature peaked at 108 degrees at 3:10 p.m., ending the record-breaking streak. Meteorologist Jessica Leffel from the National Weather Service confirmed this change, saying, “The high temperature for Phoenix today is 108 degrees.” She further added that this update would be shared on their social media platforms.
Yet, Phoenix still faced another challenge during this heat wave. The city experienced a record-breaking 16 consecutive nights when the temperature failed to drop below 90 degrees, making it extremely difficult for residents to find relief even after sunset.
However, this reprieve is expected to be short-lived. The forecast predicts that temperatures will surge back above 110 degrees in the coming days. Matthew Hirsch, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, warned that August might even surpass July in terms of extreme heat.
Meanwhile, Death Valley in California, renowned as one of the hottest places on Earth, observed some of the highest temperatures ever recorded during July. On July 16, the mercury spiked at a scorching 125.6 degrees at Furnace Creek, living up to its appropriately named location.
As the heat wave subsides, the Southwest can now hope for some relief. However, the impact of the prolonged and extreme heat continues to be a concern, raising the need for measures to mitigate the effects of future heat waves.
The Hottest Recorded Temperature on Earth
Moving forward to the present day, Las Vegas tied a temperature record on July 16, with the mercury briefly climbing to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. This matched the record set back in 1998 for the same date. The intense heatwave was not limited to Nevada but struck various regions across the American Southwest.
The sweltering conditions in Phoenix, Arizona gradually subsided recently with the arrival of the area’s inaugural major storm of the season. This much-needed rain provided relief from the relentless heat that had persisted since the start of the monsoon season on June 15.
July proved to be a month of extreme weather events throughout the United States. Tragically, fatal flash floods wreaked havoc in Pennsylvania, claiming the lives of numerous individuals and sweeping away vehicles. Additionally, extended periods of flooding led to perilous mudslides in the Northeast, amplifying the danger faced by affected communities.
At different times during these tumultuous weeks, nearly a third of Americans found themselves living under various heat advisories, watches, or warnings. While not as visually dramatic as other natural disasters, experts emphasize that heatwaves are deceivingly deadly. In June alone, scorching temperatures in parts of the South and Midwest resulted in more than a dozen fatalities.
Maricopa County, the most populous county in Arizona and home to Phoenix, has endured the brunt of these extreme temperatures. Official reports indicate 25 heat-related deaths within the county as of July 21. Furthermore, an additional 249 deaths remain under investigation, pending results from toxicological tests. It may take several weeks or even months for autopsies to confirm the extent of heat-related factors in these cases.
To put things into perspective, in the entirety of 2022, Maricopa County recorded a staggering 425 deaths associated with heat. Alarmingly, over half of these deaths occurred in July alone, solidifying its reputation as a hotspot of extreme heat-related incidents.