‘A story of extinction.’ La Brea Tar Pits recognized as a geological heritage site, protected under US Endangered Species Act and World Wildlife fund. Photo by Kevin McDonough
TOMORROW, May 24, 2016—This will be an exceptionally hot one, and a heat wave—long awaited for the entire region, and especially for the desert Southwest—is likely to follow.
“It is the kind of heat that is expected to be present for days in an afternoon,” says Dr. Patrick McNutt, assistant state demographer and professor of earth system science at the University of Arizona’s school of public and International Communication and the author of State of the Southwest, which is available at the website of the National Geography Project.
“In fact, if the atmosphere is very dry, that will be a very hot afternoon for Arizona,” McNutt says. “And if we get a lot of rainfall, then we may get a very hot afternoon, but that is not expected for the entire Southwest.”
The map below shows the location of hot, dry weather areas during the day; by night, they will be much cooler and wetter.
As the map suggests, at the moment of writing, Arizona is in the midst of a heat wave that may extend well into the evenings of June 12–14.
The hottest day of the week is Monday, with an outdoor temperature of 107 degrees. The record high for June 12–14 will be 110 degrees, set in 1980, according to McNutt. Last year—June 8-12—the record high of 107 degrees was broken by 100 degrees.
There are three significant heat waves per season in the Southwest, McNutt says. The first is the “greatest” heat wave, the hottest and longest, that is expected to return to the Southwest this spring. The second comes approximately every 10 years, and the third in a year or two.
“These three are separated by a half-decade or more, so people can get used to having these heat waves,” McNutt says. “Each heat wave is typically 10-15 years long, so when we had the great one