Phoenix may not get a record-setting 90-degree day after all

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 5:01 PM
Phoenix may not get a record-setting 90-degree day after all

PHOENIX (AP) — Unusually high temperatures in the West didn't quite break records Wednesday, and the heat was on its way out in many areas.

The National Weather Service forecast a high of 91 degrees in Phoenix in what would be the earliest the temperature reached the 90-degree mark in the city, and break a nearly 30-year-old record.

By early afternoon however, the temperature stood at 83.

"We may not even tie the record today," said James Sawtelle, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

Sawtelle said a ridge that had been bringing warm air into the Phoenix metropolitan area was shifting off to the east faster than anticipated and that cooler air from the west was moving in.

"A subtle variation in the weather pattern that will cost us a few degrees," he said.

Phoenix topped out at 87 Tuesday, which broke a record of 84 set in 2014. Meteorologists say the records go back to 1895.

The normal temperature for this time of year is 71 degrees. Phoenix usually doesn't see 90-degree heat for the first time each year until late March.

Buckeye resident Ashley Salgado said hiking trails near her home have emptied in recent days — at least when it comes to people.

"There are a lot more lizards out, and I'm afraid there are going to be a lot more rattlesnakes out too," she said.

Experts confirm Salgado's fears. Warmer temperatures have awakened the reptiles during a time they are typically in hibernation in Arizona.

The Northwest Fire District outside Tucson started getting calls in the last two weeks from panicked residents about rattlers in their yards and patios, something they don't usually see until late March and early April. Firefighters catch the snakes and take them out to the desert.

Meanwhile, an Oregon cold front was bringing a soggy end to a brief heat wave that had delighted Californians flocking outdoors.

The National Weather Service said winds would increase throughout Wednesday with rains starting by mid-afternoon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After three days of record-breaking heat, a new system was expected to bring a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain to most parts of the region Wednesday and Thursday.

The system was expected to drop between 1 and 2 feet of new snow in California's highest peaks, the National Weather Service said.

Beaches in Southern California were crowded after the holiday weekend saw record-breaking heat from Los Angeles to San Diego.

The high in downtown Los Angeles hit 90 degrees on Tuesday, breaking the old record of 88 for the day that was set in 1977, according to the weather service.

San Diego's high of 89 was 8 degrees above the 1981 record. The airport in San Francisco recorded 72, beating a 2007 high.