Sean Benedict, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Phoenix office, shares answers about the expected summer heat in Arizona and trends for the future.
Q: What are the National Weather Service’s long-term predictions for 2021’s summer heat?
The latest forecast from the Climate Prediction Center has odds tilted in favor of above normal temperatures this summer. The three-month temperature outlook for July, August, and September is favoring better chances of above normal temperatures.
Q: How will the potential for more rain influence the heat?
It will be hot regardless, but rain can still cool temperatures several degrees until the rain stops, and then it will heat up again. Another way to look at it is if we see a more active storm season, then our moisture levels or humidity levels will likely be a little higher. With high moisture levels, the magnitude of the actual temperature may not quite reach the 115s to 118s like when it is drier because it takes more solar energy to heat up a moist atmosphere versus a dry one, but the tradeoff is it could be more humid and possibly muggy with a heat index still reaching excessive levels.
Q: What is the long-term heat outlook?
In terms of longer-range outlooks for temperature in the years and decades to come, long-range climate models do support a continued warming trend, and not just during the monsoon. (Source: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)
Q: Where can I find more information about heat safety?
For more information on heat safety, visit www.weather.gov/safety/heat.