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Extreme Arizona heat triggering start of monsoon season storms

PHOENIX — The Valley of the Sun may have had the heater turned on high the past few days, but there’s a silver lining: Phoenix’s high temperatures are jump-starting monsoon season storms.

“These heatwaves indicate the mechanism to start the thunderstorms that are going to be prevalent of the next couple of months,” Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny said Tuesday.

The monsoon season may raise average humidity levels in the state, but the rains can cool things down nicely.

While the rains typically don’t arrive until July 4, Cerveny said moisture drawing into the state is the beginning of the summer storm season.

“That heat is what we have to have to charge up the monsoon,” he said. “The hot temperatures cause the formation of low pressure here in the deserts, which draws up the moisture from the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.”

Phoenix has been hit hard by high temperatures the past several days. Sunday’s high of 118 degrees was the fifth-hottest day ever recorded in the city and several other daily heat records fell between Saturday and Monday.

The extreme weather was expected to continue through Wednesday night. An excessive heat warning was issued by the weather service.

Under such an advisement, people are urged to stay indoors — especially during the hottest parts of the day — and to drink plenty of water.

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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