Why is Arizona so Hot?
If you live in Arizona, you may be used to the heat already, but to tourists and visitors, Arizona can be unbearably hot, especially during the summer months. May to September are the hottest months for Arizona. If you’ve often asked yourself “why is it so hot here?” there actually are many reasons why it gets so hot in this state.
Arizona’s Location Contributes to How Hot It Gets
One of the barriers between the state of Arizona and the cool air that flows in from the Pacific Ocean, is the Laguna Mountains in California. Without the cool ocean air flowing in, the valley stays hot. And the valley that Phoenix sits in is surrounded by mountains, which leads to an updraft of heat, rain, and clouds that can’t make it inside of the valley. This causes higher air pressure to build up, and this also keeps the clouds away.
Arizona is also located downwind of the mountains. When it rains, the precipitations rises up, and then cools and condenses into clouds. Those rain clouds then bring precipitation up the side of the mountains and then down, and it when it goes down it compacts and heats up. This makes the air drier than it was when it was upwind of the mountains.
There’s constantly high air pressure over Arizona because it’s so hot too. Due to the high pressure, air sinks down, which means clouds can’t form. Since there’s no rain, there’s no humidity, but that just means the dry air heats up faster without any humidity to absorb heat.
Arizona is an Urban Heat Island
An Urban Heat Island, or UHI, is an area that experiences consistently higher temperatures than surrounding areas because of buildings that retain heat, and a lot of concrete and asphalt in the area. They are hotter than rural areas, contain a higher population, and demand more energy for utilities like air conditioning.
A great example of a heat island is Phoenix, AZ. A lot of times the heat can cause dust storms and poorer air quality because it stays in a heat bubble. Because of all the development that has happened, there’s less natural vegetation, and vegetation is actually a natural way to help the temperature stay cooler. The past 30 years has shown that temperatures at night are not as low as they used to be. Nights no longer cool down and this has a lot to do with people building more and more structures and taking up more land.
Arizona is Close to the Equator and has Higher Elevation
Another reason it’s location makes it so hot is it’s proximity to the equator. It’s about 2,300 miles from the equator, which is close enough to mean it receives a lot of the sun’s energy, especially at the end of the year. The summer days are longer in the Northern hemisphere and due to the tilt, this means longer days in the sun, and more time in the heat. Elevation also plays a role in the temperature. Higher elevations tend to keep places cooler, but lower elevations mean places stay hot. A lot of parts of Arizona sits at low elevation. Phoenix for example, sits at 1,000 feet, which is pretty low. These two combined make the heat stay all year round in Arizona.
Arizona is a great place to live even if it is hot. And there are ways you can prevent the heat and keep cool, even during the summer months. If you’re interested in shading screens or awnings for your home or outdoor area, Superior Sun Solutions can help. We know all about how to keep heat off you in Arizona, so contact us today!