They said it would hit 116 today, and no doubt it will. We always joke about how old man weather sees me coming, and prepares a warm welcome. Truth is, it’s July in Phoenix.
As long as no weather system comes in to disturb the high pressure pattern, ambient air temperature drops from the daytime high no more than about 25 degrees at night. After a few days of 115-116 daytime highs, if you get up really early in the morning to look at outside air temps, you’ll see that it just never cooled down below 90 or 91 or so.
There is simply not much to do about it except stay indoors as much as possible, and schedule outdoor chores in the early morning or late evening. If you must work during the hottest time of day, a fully-clothed dip in the pool every half hour helps combat heat fatigue or worse. Friends who are fully acclimated to local heat (I’m not) regularly report near-heat-stroke experiences. I confine my outings to the air-conditioned car, taking out the recycle and garbage bins in the evening, and watering a few desert plants that still aren’t doing very well.
There is the early morning window of relative cool, my enjoyment of which I write about often, but there is no daytime afternoon equivalent. Once it heats up, there is very little relief until hours after sunset. I usually check outdoor temperature before turning in for the night, and it’s still at or above 100. It’s too late in the season to open the windows at night for a little free air conditioning.
A thin high band of cirrhus bring a few degrees of coolness and promise of the Monsoons on a few short weeks … Click image for desktop-size 1024×680 file.
The Monsoons are tropical disturbances that roar in from the Gulf and over the Southwest. They can bring summer dust storms, high winds and microbursts, thunder, lightning, hail and rainfall, ranging from pitiful isolated local spatters to true flash flood, gulley-washer downpours. I have seen the entire back yard flooded and threatening to come into the house. I remember the year we were out there with tennis shoes and shovels, wading in the swirling muck in a torrential downpour, looking for a drain culvert that may or may not have existed at one time … and we had several years in which hailstorms turned the back yard white, with stones the size of pearl onions.
Those are the years when motorists are advised to avoid underpasses with standing water, which they attempt to ford anyway, treating us great media pictures of pickup trucks and Hummers submerged to the rooftops.
Most years of late, the Monsoons bring enough rain to tease Maricopa County, and little more. But there is one blessing they always bring … cool air. I have seen the outdoor thermometer drop from the hundreds down to about 70, over 30 degrees in as many minutes. Like the minute hand on a large wall clock, you could practically see the hand rotate counter-clockwise to the cooler temps.
If there’s no dust storm, when the cooling winds arrive, the smart money is to turn off the air conditioner and open every door and window in the house, including the garage. Within minutes the entire house is cooler than it will be again until December, or the next good storm, whichever comes first.
Hot weather is a great time to trade stories of the best storms. Here, we do not get the overwhelming extremes of, say, the Midwest, nor the hurricanes of the Eastern seaboard or Southern coastal regions. Nevertheless, Artizona weather can be a serious force to be reckoned with.
I find myself wishing for one of those cooling storms this trip, but I believe it’s a little early to get my hopes up. Given that I plan to retire down here, I should feel a little guilty longing for the cooling fogs of the SF Bay Area, but right now I just don’t.
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