Phoenix could approach 120 degrees this weekend as heat wave continues

Jul 14, 2023, 11:16 AM | Updated: 1:54 pm

A jet takes flight from Sky Harbor International Airport as the sun sets over downtown Phoenix, Arizona, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. A sign displays the temperature as jets taxi at Sky Harbor International Airport at dusk, Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. A man wipes his brow as he walks under misters, Thursday, July 13, 2023 in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. A man works outside under the misters, Thursday, July 13, 2023 in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

PHOENIX — The Valley is about to go from the frying pan into the fire as the ongoing wave of excessive heat reaches new levels of sizzle this weekend.

There’s even an outside chance that temperatures will soar to the rarely seen 120-degree level in Phoenix.

“Today through probably Monday will probably be the hottest that we have seen during this heat wave,” Chris Kuhlman, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday morning.

Kuhlman said the forecast highs for the weekend are in the 116-119 range, with a 20% chance of Phoenix hitting 120 on Saturday or Sunday.

How rare is 120 degrees in Phoenix?

In records dating back to 1896, Phoenix has seen 120 degrees only three times, most recently in 1995. The city’s all-time record is 122 on June 26, 1990.

Phoenix is marching toward a record for consecutive days with temperatures reaching at least 110 degrees. The current streak started June 30 and is on pace to match the 18-day record from June 1974 on Monday and break it on Tuesday.

Thursday was the 14th day in a row at or above 110 degrees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which the National Weather Service uses for the city’s official readings.

“This is now ranked the third-longest stretch on record,” Isaac Smith, National Weather Service meteorologist, told KTAR 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Evening News on Thursday, when the temperature reached 114 degrees, tying the record for July 13.

The streak stretched to its 15th day Friday, when the mercury hit 110 around noon and was still rising.

Excessive heat warning for metro Phoenix continues

An excessive heat warning has been in effect for metro Phoenix since July 1 and has been extended multiple times. It was set to expire Tuesday at 8 p.m. as of Friday morning, but it could be extended again.

It’s already the Valley’s longest excessive heat warning since the National Weather Service started issuing them in 2006.

While there are signs of increasing moisture, it doesn’t appear the monsoon will be strong enough to break the heat wave in the coming days.

“Realistically, unless we get decent storms in here, I don’t see it getting below 110 anytime soon,” Kuhlman said. “Through all of next week, it looks like we’re even closer to 115 versus 110.”

How to stay safe in Arizona’s summer heat

Too much time in the Arizona sun can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death.

Warning signs of heat-related illnesses can include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache and nausea.

Outdoor activities should be curtailed between sunrise and sunset during periods of excessive heat. People should also drink more water than usual and avoid sugary, caffeinated drinks, which dehydrate the body.

Per a city of Phoenix policy that aims to protect hikers and rescue crews, Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon and Cholla trails and all Piestewa Peak trails are closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days with excessive heat warnings,

Dogs aren’t allowed on Phoenix trails when the temperature is in triple digits.

Planning agency Maricopa Association of Governments operates the regional Heat Relief Network annually from May 1 to Sept. 30. The program includes an interactive online map showing the location of more than 200 cooling centers, respite centers, hydration stations and collection sites.

Heat wave extends beyond Arizona

More than a third of Americans were under extreme heat advisories, watches and warnings Thursday as a blistering heat wave that’s been baking the nation spread further into California, forcing residents to seek out air conditioning or find other ways to stay cool in triple-digit temperatures.

The sweltering conditions were expected to build Friday and through the weekend in Central and Southern California, where many residents should prepare for the hottest weather of the year, the National Weather Service warned. Highs in inland desert areas could top 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and remain in the 80s overnight, offering little relief.

Forecasters said the long-duration heat wave is extremely dangerous, especially for older people, homeless residents and other vulnerable populations. The heat could persist into next week as a high pressure dome moves west from Texas.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix could approach 120 degrees this weekend as heat wave continues