Mar 21, 2024 - News

It's not just summer: Phoenix spring temperatures are on the rise

Change in average spring temperature from 1970 to 2023
Data: Climate Central; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Phoenix's spring seasons are getting warmer, more so than much of the rest of the country's, according to a recent Climate Central analysis.

Why it matters: The trend reflects human-caused warming, the group says.

  • Much of the seasonal climate change discussion is focused on summer and winter, when temperatures are typically at their annual high and low extremes.
  • But the "between seasons" are affected too.

By the numbers: Springtime in Phoenix warmed by 5.2°F on average between 1970 and 2023, per Climate Central, a climate research and communications nonprofit.

  • That's more than double the average warming of 2.2° across nearly 230 U.S. cities.

Stunning stat: Spring has gotten notably warmer in the Southwest, where average temperatures have risen by more than 6° in some places.

Zoom in: The highest average springtime temperature increases were seen in Reno, Nevada (+6.8°F), El Paso, Texas (+6.3°F) and Las Vegas (+6.2°F).

What it did: The group's analysis is based on NOAA data during meteorological spring, which begins March 1 and ends May 31.

What it's saying: Warmer springtime temperatures cause a variety of effects, per Climate Central, including earlier snowmelt (which affects drinking water supplies), longer allergy seasons and changes in agricultural growing seasons.

The big picture: It's not just spring temperatures that are rising. Our notoriously hot summers set some unfortunate new records last year as well.

  • Phoenix last year shattered its previous record for consecutive days with high temperatures at 110° or higher, setting a new record at 31 days.
  • We also set a new record in 2023 of 19 consecutive days with overnight lows of at least 90°, and a new record for highest low temperature at 97°.

What's next: Wildfire season generally runs from April through early July, and things could be worse than normal this year, according to state officials.

  • Last year's fire season was relatively mild, but heavy precipitation led to increased vegetation, which could fuel more fires in 2024, state fire management officer John Truett tells Axios.
  • Truett said during a press conference Monday that the Tonto National Forest, areas south of the Mogollon Rim and much of southern Arizona could see increased fire activity this year.

Zoom in: Arizona this year has hired a chief heat officer whose position was created as part of Gov. Katie Hobbs' Heat Preparedness Plan.


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