120 DEGREES, YOU CAN HAVE IT...
There's a reason I don't live in the desert. Number one it's dry as a bone, Personally I make it a rule to never live anywhere it does not storm on a regular basis. Secondly, it's flat out hot, so much so that for the better part of 6 months daily highs reach 100 or greater. Dry heat or not, that's not my cup of tea.
That brings me to what's been going on in the deserts of the southwest where Phoenix hit 119 today establishing a record high. That's just 3 degrees short of the all-time hottest maximum of 122!
Yuma, not too far away made it to 120 Tuesday and also set a record high for the date.
Just how bad is triple-digit heat that extends well past sundown? Well, It’s not considered abnormal for folks in Phoenix to drive with oven mitts or ice packs in the car. And after a certain threshold...roughly 110, even the “it’s a dry heat” jokes stop being funny.
Usually, the hot season is met with a certain amount of "are you kidding me" disbelief by those outside of Arizona. Meanwhile, the locals shrug, knowing simply to stay indoors as much as possible or escape to the cooler climes of Northern Arizona.
But this week has felt different, even for seasoned desert-dwellers as the southwest is experiencing its worst heat wave in a couple decades. Excessive heat warnings have been in effect from Arizona to California and will remain in place for the remainder of the week.
And it was so hot recently that dozens of flights were canceled at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. American Airlines alerted its customers over the weekend, offering fee-free changes to upcoming flights that were departing or arriving at Phoenix between 3 and 6 p.m., when temperatures peak.
Monday and Tuesday, American canceled 50 flights in and out of Phoenix, according to an American Airlines spokesman.
Regional flights on American Eagle were the most affected, because they use Bombardier CRJ planes that can only operate at temperatures of 118 degrees or below. Flights on larger Airbus and Boeing planes were not canceled because they are able to operate at higher maximum temperatures: 127 degrees for Airbus and 126 degrees for Boeing.
Each aircraft manufacturer sets its own parameters for operating temperatures. As of Tuesday morning, Sky Harbor officials said no other airlines had been affected.
The heat shows no sign of relenting soon. Here's what the highs are expected to reach Wednesday afternoon.
The soaring temperatures are being brought about by a dome of high pressure aloft centered directly over Arizona. You can see it here at 500mb.
On the periphery of the heat is where the ring of fire is located. It's where cool air bumps up against the warmth rotating around the high. It's a spot where thunderstorms are active for obvious reasons. Underneath the heat dome the air sinks and you can see how the deserts of S. California, Nevada, and Arizona bake as the rains fall off to the east. Just another day in paradise!
Here in the great "lush" Midwest we'll also see a warm-up that could bring a 90 degree high to my southern counties Thursday afternoon. The EURO has this for max temperatures.
Dew points are also back up around 70 so the steam will be on (but in this case only for a day).
As the warmth and moisture tries to enter Iowa Wednesday, scattered showers and storms could return to parts of my area. These are likely to be spotty in nature and below severe limits. Further west it's another story where a higher risk is indicated.
Thursday, with the heat and humidity in place and an advancing cold front storms should be more widespread with a greater potential to be strong. The Storm Prediction Center has a large swath of the Midwest in a slight risk of severe weather as of Tuesday night.