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Phoenix reaches record 96 degrees on last day of winter

A race fan stands on her RV as she takes pictures with her cell phone during practice for a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Saturday, March. 18, 2017, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX — Perhaps a few shamrocks wilted for St. Patrick’s Day weekend in the Phoenix area, as both Saturday and Sunday temperatures set record highs.

The city reached 95 degrees on Saturday, beating the previous record of 94 degrees set in 2007.

On Sunday, the last day of winter, Phoenix matched its record high of 92 degrees around 1 p.m. before topping out at 96 degrees, 4 degrees higher than the previous mark from 2004. It was 18 degrees above the average of 78 degrees.

The National Weather Service forecasted record heat over the weekend as a high-pressure system settles over the Valley.

“Just a high-pressure system that’s been slowly building over the Southwest,” said Jaret Rogers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix. “It’s been hot for a while, and it’s going to continue this weekend and early next week. Today’s supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far.”

Saturday’s forecasted high of 95 degrees comes nearly a full month ahead of the average.

“The official average is April 14 when we hit 95, but we have hit it a lot earlier,” meteorologist Mark O’Malley with the weather service said. “Last year, we hit it on April 6.”

“There’s a lot of warm air and the sun beating down on us, which is going to give us (these highs) in the mid-90s,” O’Malley said.

The heat could be a bit of a downer for some that are headed to outdoor events this weekend, such as the Pot of Gold music festival, the Camping World 500 NASCAR race or spring training. Attendees should drink plenty of water and take precautions to avoid sunburn, as should anyone who is outdoors.

“Another hot day tomorrow,” Rogers said. “May see record temperatures again tomorrow — 95 for Phoenix is our forecast high.”

Things are expected to cool off and return to normal next week. The weather service is calling for highs to be in the upper 70s on Wednesday and Thursday.

There is also a 20 percent chance of rain on Wednesday.

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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