Weekend Weather Wows: Another jaw-dropping ‘Phoenix is really hot’ statistic

The stubborn heat wave baking the Southwest for more than three weeks now brings new meaning to "desert fever."

PHOENIX – The stubborn heat wave baking the Southwest for more than three weeks now brings new meaning to "desert fever."

It's time for our weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

Can Phoenix throw in the towel yet?

I’m sure you've heard by now that it's been hot in Phoenix – yes, even by their standards. The streak of 110-plus-degree days has passed three weeks. Saturday marks day 23. It's difficult to put that all into perspective, especially for a place that is already the national capital of sizzle.

Let me try.

If you put July 2023 in the boxing ring up against the hottest July days of every other year in their record books, it's a fair fight.

Through Friday, the average high temperature in Phoenix was 114.5 degrees. If you average the daily record high temperatures from 1933-2022 through the same period, you'll get 116.2 degrees. It's an aggregate difference of only 10 total degrees spread over 21 days. Put another way, it's as if nearly every day this month has been a record high. 

As it is, Phoenix has set eight new high-temperature records this month and just missed on pretty much all the others, but there are still a couple of rounds left in the bout.

The average temperature (high plus low temperature divided by two) so far in July in Phoenix is 102.5 degrees – truly a desert fever. If that holds close through the end of the month, it'll likely rate as one of the hottest months ever recorded in the U.S., trailing perhaps just Death Valley and Needles in California. It certainly would smash the record for Phoenix, which has never averaged a month over 100 degrees. The current record is 99.1 degrees, set in August 2020. 

Even the nights are baking. Phoenix has not been below 90 degrees since July 9, and their low temperature of 97 on Wednesday was their all-time record-warmest low temperature. That morning low turned into a record high of 119 degrees that afternoon, and the average temperature of 108 that day was, you guessed it, the warmest on record.

Heat waves are still big in Texas, too

As much as Arizona would love to gift away the heat, don't try asking Texas to take it.

Friday marked the 36th consecutive day in triple digits in El Paso, making it nearly two weeks since they initially broke the previous record of 23.

You will not be shocked to hear the forecast is still over 100 for at least the next week, giving them a chance to not just continue to shatter but perhaps double their record.

There are so many other records out there: 

  • Austin nearly doubled their all-time record of consecutive days at or above 105 degrees, reaching 11 through Thursday at Camp Mabry. The streak ended Friday when the highhit 104.
  • Southern Florida, where it's been weeks with heat index readings over 105 degrees, if not more, has been under heat alerts for at least 19 days.
  • Marathon, Florida, has set 15 new record highs this year in July – out of 20 possible. That includes tying their all-time high temperature of 99. Dew points have pushed 80, if not climbed over, in south Florida and the Florida Keys, giving an unbelievably high heat index.

Where to find beach weather in the 70s

If 100-plus is too hot for beach weather, we've found a spot along the water where it was in the comfortable 70s this week: Utqiagvik, Alaska.

On Wednesday, the town 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle reached 74 degrees, which, combined with its 53-degree low, tied its warmest average temperature on record of 64 degrees.

Didn't get there in time for an arctic beach party? On Friday, the temperature reached 71 degrees in the late morning, but hopefully, you brought layers. Four hours later, the temperature was in the upper 40s as fog rolled in.

Finally! A weather tie to Barbie

Alaska climatologist Brian Brettschneider has pulled off what many of us in the meteorology community might have thought impossible: Find a way to tie weather into this weekend's Barbie movie hype.

He gets bonus points for matching Barbie to current heat wave relevance by calculating North America's change in temperature since Barbie was introduced in 1959.

Chicago's not supposed to be quite this windy

Sure, Chicago is the Windy City, but the wind isn't supposed to swirl like this.

The National Weather Service office in Chicago said they have investigated 44 tornadoes so far in their region this year. They average 12 for an entire year.

You can read about them all at their storm survey link.

The mountains are not supposed to be quite this windy either

I wonder if this made any sound.

Brian Knoll was hiking up in Colorado's mountains near Pikes Peak late this week when he stumbled upon dozens of flattened trees amid the forests. Suspicious it might have been at the hands of a tornado, he took a couple dozen photos and reached out to the local National Weather Service office in Pueblo.

That office sent a survey team to the mountain Friday night and confirmed yes, an EF-1 tornado tore a 2-mile path across the forest at around the 9,500-foot elevation level.

It wasn't quite a record elevation for a reported tornado. There have been some documented cases of tornadoes above 11,000 feet. 

NWS folks aren't sure how common tornadoes are at that elevation because people are rarely there to witness or report them, but they will say they're at least "uncommon."

One lucky person gets to spend the night in the 20s?

We've spent plenty of time this month highlighting the millions sweltering in the record triple-digit heat.

Now let's give a shout-out to the one person who is forecast to freeze on Monday. Whoever you are.

Our forecast database can track the expected population exposed to various temperature thresholds. The computer's calculations Saturday morning think there is a spot where one person lives who will experience a temperature below 30 degrees Monday.

It's not quite winning a billion bucks in the lottery this week, but I can think of about 100 million who might want to at least swap places for a night.

Other Weather Wow-y tidbits

Kentucky has preliminarily set a new state record for 24 hour rainfall with 11.28 inches during the major flooding near Mayfield on Wednesday, breaking the old record of 10.48 inches set on March 1, 1997. Paducah received 6.95 inches on Wednesday -- its second-wettest day on record.

It's even warm in the north, where high humidity has given Concord, New Hampshire a record 26 consecutive days with a temperature staying above 60 degrees. 

Philadelphia has now gone 11 years since reaching 100 degrees, though they hit 99 last July. Hope I didn't just jinx it!

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