It is getting hot in Phoenix. How do people do to deal with the heat?

It’s June 19th, 2016. According to a news report in The Arizona Republic this afternoon, today was a daily temperature record and the fifth hottest day on record in Phoenix. Temps of 118° Fahrenheit (48° Celsius) were measured at Sky Harbor International Airport. That is only 4 degrees shy of the all-time record high of 122°F for the city of Phoenix set in 1990.

I took this photo a few hours ago by the pool. Almost time for a new thermometer.

It’s so hot today, the trees are bribing the dogs.

Today, Father’s Day 2016, is the hottest day that I have experienced since moving to the Valley of the Sun two years ago. If you have not lived in Arizona or experienced the heat, you might have preconceived ideas that it is unbearable or worse than shoveling snow. It’s not. But there are things to consider.

Just like freezing weather in northern latitudes, the high temps here take preparation.  These are some of my observations about dealing with the sun and heat in Arizona on triple digit days:

  • Hats and sunglasses become daily accessories in the summer months. Polarized lenses are worth the extra cost.
  • Phoenix is a little quieter in the summer. Snowbirds have gone back up north. Roads, restaurants, and retail are a little less congested.
  • Parking spaces under a shade tree or in a parking garage are prized commodities and are claimed quickly. Leave your car windows cracked open about an inch.
  • Phoenicians regularly escape to San Diego during hot summer months for a beach break when temps in the Valley reach over 100°F. Californians identify us by our license plates and refer to us as “Zonies”.
  • In direct sun, Windex window cleaner on glass evaporates before you can put the spray bottle down and pick up the paper towel.
  • Travel with extra water in your car even if you are driving a short distance.
  • Buying a home with a pool makes you royalty.
  • If your friend’s car has leather interior and he offers to drive, you’ll end up taking your car with cloth interior.
  • The 100-degree heat can stick around, even after the sun goes down.

how hot heat Phoenix Arizona record temps summer summertime peak weather

  • Errands are easiest in the early morning or late evening, but everyone else knows this too.
  • Chap-Stick® lip balm melts if left in the car. Chocolate outside of a refrigerator melts quicker than a cat leaving a dog tavern.
  • Malls and movie theaters like Harkins or AMC are a popular place to camp out on these record hot days.
  • Laundry on a clothesline seems to dry twice as fast in direct sun at 105°F than it does in the clothes dryer on a medium setting.
  • Automotive tires crack and deteriorate faster here in the sun from dry rot caused by UV light than in northern climates.  Avoid tire shine made from petrochemicals that can damage a tire’s wax coating. Use a product like 303® Aerospace Protectant to stall the effects of tire dry rot.
  • People still leave their pets in cars and outside unattended too long on days like this despite all of the news reports and warnings.
  • A windshield sun visor is a wise investment. You can distinguish locals from snowbirds this way.
  • Water in a vacant home’s sink traps, toilets, showers, and tubs will dry up within a few weeks allowing pungent sewer gas to back up in the home. Make arrangements to have someone run water if you leave for the summer.
  • You can actually get a light chill getting out of the pool at 118°F when there is a breeze. It’s the evaporative cooling effect. Friends up north will never believe you until it happens to them.
  • It is an urban legend that high temperatures have shut down flights at the Sky Harbor International Airport in the past. In 1990, according to this official, there were delays when temps hit the record high of 122°F. However, the holdover was related to recalculating takeoff weight because the data in the plane manuals didn’t reflect temps that high. Hot air is less dense, so planes have to shed pounds to fly in hotter weather.
  • And tragically, there were 4 hiking deaths today around Arizona. Most were under 40 years old. Even energetic, ambitious 25-year-old hikers can start hiking at 7:30 am and be dead by 2:30 pm because they get lost and run out of water supplies on a Phoenix hike during a 118°F day. Please take heat seriously and stock up on water when you are outdoors.

So what does 118°F feel like? There is very little humidity, so reminds me of standing under a heat lamp or talking into a hair dryer at arm’s length.

Everyone and every thing needs a break from the heat

I carefully chose the time today for my outdoor activities and chores due to the high temps. I started early this morning and received a pleasant surprise. A Mourning dove who flew over within eight feet of where I was watering plants and looked at me as if to say, “Hey, why don’t you share some of that cool water?” He allowed me to lightly mist him with the garden hose for about half a minute. Even animals and birds will make compromises to cool off in this Sonoran Desert heat. He had his fill, fluffed his feathers in a birdbath motion, and flew off.

Later, this mourning dove devised an ingenious method to get a sip of water from my pool. He landed on the floating pool dispenser and leaned over.

mourning dove drinking pool water pool chlorine float

Do you have an observation about sun or heat in Arizona to add my list above? Post a comment below and I will do my level best to include all helpful additions. Thanks!

Just one more record for the books…

Only 24 hours after this post was written, Prescott, Arizona set an all-time record high for the temperature of 105°F on June 20, 2016, according to the National Weather Service.


What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.  – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer, aristocrat, journalist, pioneering aviator, and poet.