UPDATED to add Monday’s temps.
The number is kind of legendary around here. ‘A hundred and twenty degrees’ is one of those numbers that people throw around when they talk about life in the desert. People in the Parker area act like they own it, but the truth is that people talk about 120 degrees in the same reverent tones in Palm Springs and in Phoenix and other desert cities too.
This week’s heat wave has been anticipated in the forecast for a while now, with people preparing mentally for the boost in temps, particularly because the temperatures were running well below average last week. But for all the talk of 120-degree summers, how common is it to reach that temperature on the Parker Strip?
It’s very rare. In fact, when scouring the National Weather Service data for Parker, AZ, there were only 2 days in the past 6 years when the official temperature rose that high, and both were back-to-back days in June 2013 (on the 29th we hit 120 and on the 30th we hit 121).
In fact, the average high temps in Parker during July and August are 108 and 107 respectively.
So Sunday’s high of 121 degrees and Monday’s high of 125 DEGREES is an epic event, an incredible glimpse of Death Valley -like heat. The weather didn’t stop anybody getting out and enjoying the cool Colorado River over the weekend, but construction crews were stopped, a recycling center in Big River told us they shut down after somebody got heatstroke Sunday, and pets are needing special care as everybody hunkers down.
In fact, everybody needs to take special care this week, especially the most vulnerable. Look after your kids, especially if any part of their day is outdoors. Check in on elderly neighbors. Make sure pets aren’t suffering. The worst of the heat will be Monday and Tuesday, but the rest of the week will be hotter than average too.
As long as everybody stays safe, there’s always a story after this kind of weather. Like the fact that I just picked up my parents and brought them to Parker as they visit from Ireland, where the current high is 60 degrees. Hey, it’ll give them something to talk about!
And the next time somebody talks about 120 degrees, remind them of how rare – and dangerous – it actually is.