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Historic heat: Phoenix reaches earliest 90-degree day on record

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PHOENIX — Phoenicians who moved here for warmer winters are getting more than they bargained for as record-breaking heat came historically early this year.

According to the National Weather Service, thermometers at Phoenix Sky Harbor reached 90 degrees on Wednesday, making Feb. 17, 2016 the earliest 90-degree day in Arizona’s recorded history.

In 2015, the first 90-degree day fell on March 16, a couple weeks ahead of the average of March 30. Prior to Wednesday, the earliest 90-degree day on record was Feb. 24, both in 1904 and 1986.

There’s no indication that an early 90-degree day signifies even warmer temperatures are on the horizon.

The last time Phoenix saw temperatures of 90 degrees or above was Oct. 26.

The current heat wave is caused by a lingering high-pressure dome containing unusually high temperatures. This, combined with the absence of clouds that usually accompany high-pressure systems, is allowing things to get uncomfortably warm each afternoon.

For the time being, the Valley’s forecast is looking toasty. The mercury will hit the mid- to high 80s well into next week.

The Valley was expected to be wet and cool during spring thanks to the El Nino weather pattern. One climatologist even said the weather would resemble that of Seattle.

However, Mark O’Malley with the weather service said February seems to have flipped a switch.

“December and January actually were very cool and January was very wet,” he said. “After the first week of February, we just switched over, and it’s been unusually warm and dry.”

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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