A historic heat wave that transformed the U.S. Southwest into a searing inferno during the month of July is finally starting to ease as monsoon rains arrive.
Forecasters predict that by Monday, residents of metro Phoenix will experience temperatures below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) for the first time in a month. For 29 consecutive days, the high temperature in the desert city has exceeded or reached that scorching mark.
This week, the overnight low at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport dropped below 90 degrees (32.2 C) for the first time in 16 days, offering some much-needed relief from the oppressive heat after sunset.
The heat is also expected to diminish in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Death Valley, California.
The downward trend commenced on Wednesday night when Phoenix encountered its first major monsoon storm since the official start of the season on June 15. Although more than half of the greater Phoenix area received no rainfall from this storm, some eastern suburbs were hit by powerful winds, swirling dust, and localized downpours of up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) of precipitation.
As the weekend progresses, storms are anticipated to intensify gradually.
Scientific analysis indicates that July will likely go down as the hottest month worldwide on record and potentially the hottest ever experienced by human civilization.
Now, extreme heat is spreading across the eastern part of the U.S., as soaring temperatures move from the Midwest into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, where some areas are encountering their highest temperatures of the year.
These new heat records set during the summer are only some of the extreme weather events witnessed across the U.S. this month, including flash floods in Pennsylvania and parts of the Northeast.
Dangerously Hot Temperatures in Southwest
The Southwest region is currently experiencing dangerously hot temperatures, with relief expected in the near future. Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, recorded a high temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) on Friday afternoon, significantly exceeding the average temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.1 degrees Celsius).
The local fire department in Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix, has urged residents to take precautions against the extreme heat. They emphasized that anyone spending time outdoors is at risk and offered helpful tips to stay safe during this record-breaking heatwave.
Unfortunately, certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable to the heat, including older adults, individuals with health issues, and those without access to air conditioning. The public health department of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is the most populous county in Arizona, has already confirmed 25 heat-associated deaths this year as of July 21. Moreover, they are currently investigating an additional 249 deaths that are believed to be heat-related.
It is worth noting that toxicological test results, which are typically obtained through postmortem autopsies and can take several weeks or months to process, may lead to more deaths being reclassified as confirmed cases of heat-related fatalities.
Last year, Maricopa County reported 425 heat-associated deaths, with over half of them occurring in July alone.
In other parts of Arizona, Yuma, an agricultural desert community, is expected to face highs between 104 and 112 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 44.4 degrees Celsius) next week. Meanwhile, Tucson is likely to experience temperatures ranging from 99 to 111 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 to 43.9 degrees Celsius).
Las Vegas is set to see a decrease in temperatures next Tuesday, with highs dipping as low as 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 degrees Celsius) after an extended period of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius). Death Valley, which reached a sweltering 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53.3 degrees Celsius) in mid-July, will also cool off slightly, although it will still reach a scorching 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius).
In New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque is expected to have temperatures in the mid to high 90s degrees Fahrenheit (around 35 degrees Celsius) next week, accompanied by partly cloudy skies.