Excessive Heat Warning issued for 12 Arizona counties

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for much of southern Arizona, as temperatures in the Phoenix area could reach 115°F this weekend.

The counties included in the warning are:

  • Maricopa County from 10 a.m. on June 8 though 8 p.m. on June 12
  • Coconino from 11 a.m. on June 8 through 8 p.m. on June 12
  • La Paz, Gila, Mohave, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma from 10 a.m. on June 9 through 8 p.m. on June 12
  • Graham, Greenlee, Pima, and Santa Cruz from 10 a.m. on June 9 through 7 p.m. on June 12

On June 10 at 2:10 p.m., Phoenix reached 112°, setting a new daily record. The previous record of 111° was set in 1978. According to NWS, "Still a bit more heating left in the day, so we could [possibly] go a degree or two higher. Stay tuned."

At 3:00 p.m., the temperature did rise to 113°, but five minutes later, the temperature decreased to 111°, according to NWS' timeline.

On June 8, the high temperature in Phoenix was 110°, making it the first 110° temperature of 2022. The record is 115° set in 1985. During 1991 to 2020, the average first 110° day of the year is June 11, according to NWS Phoenix. The earliest 110° temperature on record in Phoenix is May 8, 1989.

Heat shelter opens for those in need

In Mesa, the Salvation Army has opened its doors to help people cool down.

The initiative is part of Mesa's summer safety campaign, which is a partnership between Salvation Army and the City of Mesa.

The doors of the Salvation Army in Mesa, located near University and Mesa Drive, are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. People can come in, get cooled off, and have some lunch and water. On scheduled Tuesdays, they can even get a haircut. 

"Sometimes, they get a hot lunch. We do senior meals here each day, so if we have extra. They at least get lunch, they get water, they get snacks. Anything to try to make it a little nicer," said Major Scott Ramsey with the Salvation Army.

Ramsey says the heat relief station was typically only open on extreme heat days, rather than seven days a week. People can stay there all day if needed.

"It might not have been the excessive heat, but we wanted to be open. So we worked with the City of Mesa to provide the funds, so we guarantee to be open each day," said Ramsey, "It's life saving. If you're out on the street with some of their issues, their health issues, they can't exist. So this gives them at least an eight, nine-hour break."

Ramsey says they are already seeing about 20 people per day, and that number is expected to go up. The heat relief station is open until September 30.

Little relief from heat during nighttime hours

While daytime temperatures are high, there isn't much relief at night for people in the Valley, and at least a part of that has to do with the urban heat island effect.

"With a city environment with asphalt, concrete, and buildings that have air conditioners that push hot air into the environment, because air conditioners are like heat pumps. They take the hot air out of your house and [send] it outside, so as you get more and more of that, you’re going to end up changing the local temperature," said National Weather Service Phoenix Meteorologist Marvin Percha.

The problem is likely to continue as the Phoenix area continues to grow.

"As we grow in population, that means there is a proportion that there is going to be more at risk, and what seems to be the general trend towards warmer temperatures is going to be an increasing problem over time, most likely," said Percha.

Extreme heat makes outdoor work a challenge

With the extreme heat, working outside can present a challenge.

"We’re hot. It’s hot out here," said Joseph Ramirez with Sundland Asphalt and Construction.

Ramirez said at construction sites, they know to take a lot of breaks.

They have to when temperatures are as high as they were on June 8.

"If we’re feeling hot, we take breaks. We drink water," said Ramirez. "They give us stuff to put in the water to keep us hydrated, so if someone is hot -- we know when we’re hot -- we hydrate."

Sundland's Safety Manager, Joe Zaleski, said they have shaded areas at every construction site in the summer, as well as plenty of hydration.

Lance Wilson, who runs food trucks, said working over a stovetop in the sun can be brutal.

"When it’s 112 outside, it's 120 in there if we don’t have the right equipment," said Wilson.

On hot days, Lance and others come prepared.

"AC unit. We got a mini split and a swamp cooler fan, so we kind keep we figured it out," said Wilson. "I’m a native. We figured it out. I just get a shade darker in the summer, that’s it. We get used to that part."


Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings
  • Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)
  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day
  • Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside

Driving in extreme temperatures

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include: 

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire. 

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under-inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

MORE: https://azdot.gov/about/transportation-safety/severe-weather