Extreme Weather

Extreme weather situations include extreme heat, monsoons, severe thunderstorms, fire weather, dust storms and flash flooding.

Basics of the Arizona Monsoon and Desert Meteorology

From the Arizona State University Climate Office.

Arizona resides within the North American Monsoon geographical arena. The monsoon season typically begins in early June when active thunderstorms build in central and southern Mexico. In mid- to late June, the thunderstorms move toward the International Border and into Arizona. The monsoon is a season where the dry, westerly winds (winds coming from the west) that typically persist through fall, winter and spring shift to moist, southerly winds (winds coming from the south). The incoming moisture helps build thunderstorm activity across the state.

Extreme Heat - Ready.gov

There is hot, and then there is hot!

Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.

Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.

This guide is an excellent introduction to the topic of extreme heat. Excellent links to other extreme heat related information for further investigation.

Preparing for Extreme Heat

There is hot, and then there is hot!

Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.

Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.

  • Red Cross - Extreme Heat ChecklistPDF
  • FEMA - Be Prepared for Extreme HeatPDF

What is a Haboob?

Haboobs may have a peculiar name, but these apocalyptic-looking sandstorms are nothing to sneeze at. Originating from the Arabic word habb meaning "to blow," these weather phenomena fill the skies when thunderstorm-induced winds kick up loose sand and dirt from the ground, resulting in a billowing wall of dust and debris.

Although the first haboobs were observed in Sudan, Africa, similar storms also occur in the Middle East, Central Australia, the American Southwest (most notably in Arizona and Texas), and even on Mars.

A September, 2021 article by Tiffany Means for Treehugger.


View Article Sources:

"North American Monsoon Downburst Winds and Dust Storms." National Weather Service.

"Haboobs: Phenomena with the Unusual Name Are No Joke." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Dust Storms." Arizona Emergency Information Network.

"Dust Storms and Haboobs." National Weather Service.

"Dust Storms." Pinal County Government.

Tong, Daniel Q., et al. "Intensified Dust Storm Activity and Valley Fever Infection in the Southwestern United States." Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 44, no. 9, 2017, pp. 4304-4312., doi:10.1002/2017GL073524


What is Fire Weather?

Occasionally, on a breezy but otherwise pleasant day, a weather alert will pop up on your cell phone or TV. No, it's no mistake; it's most likely a notification for fire weather—weather conditions favorable for the ignition and spread of wildfires.

Fire weather can occur in any season but peaks during late-summer and fall when drier air and dry fuels (fallen leaves and dormant trees) are commonplace. Although fire weather is experienced globally, it poses a greater risk to locations like the western United States, Australia, Africa, and the Amazon, which are prone to wildfires.

This 2021 article from by Tiffany Means of TreeHugger helps to explain the conditions that contribute to Fire Weather

Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Check the Back Seat

Over the past 25 years, more than 940 children have died of heatstroke, because they were left or became trapped in a hot car. It’s important for everyone to understand that children are more vulnerable to heatstroke and that all hot car deaths are preventable.

Know the Facts:

A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's.

When a child is left in a vehicle, that child's temperature can rise quickly — and the situation can quickly become dangerous.

Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees.

A child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees.

In 2022, 33 children died of heatstroke in vehicles.

In 2018 and 2019, we saw a record number of hot car deaths - 53 children died each year — the most in at least 25 years, according to NoHeatstroke.org.

Stay Weather Aware and Prepare for Arizona's Monsoon Season

Stay weather aware and prepare for Arizona’s monsoon season.

While it may feel like summer is just kicking off, the monsoon season has officially started and that means some safety measures should be mixed in with your summer fun.

What is the North American Monsoon? The monsoon involves changes in seasonal winds that can cause extreme weather conditions including extreme heat, dust storms, sudden downpour, lightning, flash flooding, and wildfires. By learning more about how monsoon weather can impact your health and taking steps to be prepared, you can ensure you and your loved ones have a safe monsoon season.

This article was published on the Arizona Department of Health Services website on June 20th, 2023.

If you are new to Arizona or unfamiliar with the monsoon season, this information can be lifesaving for you and your family.

Plan Ahead for Emergencies and Natural Disasters

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated.

Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Use this page to access specific information about different types of potential weather disasters, such as, extreme heat, flooding, thunder and lightning, power outages and other forms of severe weather. Then use the various resources to help you and your family prepare for these events.

This is a great resource for emergency preparedness preparation and planning.

National Weather Service - Monsoon Safety

Although the Monsoon brings welcome rains and relief from the summer heat, the thunderstorms that come with the Monsoon bring their own hazards. In fact, this is the most dangerous time of year weather-wise in the Southwest. So, before the season gets underway, it is a very good idea to review these safety tips.

Before the Storm, check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors. Always keep an eye to the sky and watch for signs of approaching storms. If a storm is approaching, keep a NOAA Weather Radio or AM/FM radio with you or a cell phone capable of browsing the web.

If a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect, be mindful that severe thunderstorms could quickly develop. When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued, outdoor activities should be postponed as this is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat

7 strategies to prevent your pet from overheating

"In some places this summer, going outside can feel like walking into an oven turned up to broil. And if humans feel that way as they venture out, furry pets feel it more."

This July 2022 article from AARP does strategies to help keep your pet cool in extreme summer heat.

"Dogs cool themselves by panting. But panting becomes inefficient in extreme heat, during physical exertion, when a dog is dehydrated, when there’s insufficient ventilation or due to a combination of those factors.​

​Within minutes, a dog can become overheated, which can lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, kidney failure, brain damage and even death, veterinarians say."

National Weather Service - Phoenix Heat Page

Most every statistic, record or fact that you might want to know regarding heat from the National Weather Service!

Heat is the #1 Weather-Related Killer in Arizona!

Heat Safety Tips:

. Drink water: Stay hydrated
. Dress for heat: Wear light-weight layers
. Use sunscreen: Use SPF 30 or greater
. "Look before you lock": Never leave children or pets in cars.
. Keep cool: Take breaks in shade or in areas with A/C


Arizona Heat Facts:

The highest temperature recorded in Arizona was 128 degrees F in Lake Havasu on June 29, 1994.

The highest temperature recorded in Phoenix was 122 degrees F on June 26,1990. The Phoenix Sky Harbor airport was forced to shut down for several hours.

The highest temperature recorded in Yuma was 124 degrees F on July28, 1995.

Hydration & Heat Relief in Pinal County - Summer 2024

"There are many locations throughout the County where you can cool off in the air conditioning or get water.

Click on a red pin below for location, hours of operation, and contact information for each site."

Check out this site for cooling station locations.

Also, remember to keep an eye on vulnerable family and friends. Should their HVAC system breakdown or fail to keep up with the heat they have an emergency situation. Find a way to move the affected person(s) to cool place and then call for a repair person.

If there is a need for financial assistance, try reaching out to home repair programs. CAHRA has a Minor Home Repair Program that might be of some assistance. For CAHRA programs, income limits will likely apply.

To reach CAHRA click on: Community Action Human Resources Agency (CAHRA) is a private, non-profit corporation providing for the identified needs of people and communities of Pinal County. CAHRA builds firm foundations in partnership with communities by stimulating family cohesiveness and self-reliance.

What is El Niño & La Niña?

What is El Niño & La Niña?

The El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and the patterns of sea level pressure, lower- and upper-level winds, and tropical rainfall across the Pacific basin.

When Does This Occur?

On periods ranging from about two to seven years, the
surface waters across a large swath of the tropical Pacific
Ocean warm or cool by anywhere from 1°C to 3°C,
compared to normal. This irregular oscillation between
warm and cool patterns, referred to as the ENSO cycle,
directly affects rainfall distribution in the tropics and
can have a strong influence on weather across the United
States and other parts of the world.

El Niño and La Niña are the extreme phases of the ENSO cycle; between these two phases is a third phase called ENSO-neutral

Be Careful: Research Shows That Anyone Could Forget a Kid in a Hot Car

"Forgetting children is a common memory failure that can lead to tragic consequences"

If parents believe they would never forget their child in a hot car, they should think again. It can happen to anyone.

Since 1998, about 950 children have died in hot cars and more than half of them were left behind unknowingly by their caregiver, according to NoHeatStroke.org.

A leading expert in cognitive neuroscience who has studied the role of memory in such tragedies has found that the stresses parents face in everyday life can make these memory lapses more likely.

Forgetting a child is not a negligence problem but a memory problem, says David Diamond, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“The most common response is that only bad or negligent parents forget kids in cars,” Diamond says. “It’s a matter of circumstances. It can happen to everyone.”

This updated, June 2023 article from Consumer Reports is an eye opener and a reminder that this awful experience can happen to anyone!

CR's Ultimate Heat Survival Guide

"With temperatures rising, we’ve gathered the best ways to stay comfortable and safe—both inside and out—even on scorching hot days."

A July 10th, 2023, survival guide from Consumer's Report. Check it out!

7 Ways to Stay Cool on the Cheap

Beat excessive heat without breaking the bank.

"For budget-conscious older adults, blasting the air conditioner all day and stocking up on an endless supply of bottled water may not be ideal, but there are other ways to stay cool without breaking the bank, including these seven."

A July 2023 article from AARP with some inexpensive options to stay cool in extreme heat.

Older Adult Toolkit: Extreme Heat - Stay Safe When Our State Heats Up

Heat Safety - Older Adult Toolkit

Heat illness is a preventable condition, but has been the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heat illness causes more deaths than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. From 2009 to 2019, over 2,000 deaths were caused from exposure to excessive natural heat. Of deaths among Arizona residents, 34 percent occurred in older adults over the age of 65. The Heat and Older Adults Safety Toolkit (HOAST) was created to provide older adults and caregivers information to stay safe in the heat.

An informative article from the Arizona Department of Health Services

2-1-1 Heat Relief Information

"Arizona is one of the hottest places on earth from May to September. Heat-related illnesses are common during the summer, and some heat-related illnesses can even be fatal. Below you can find resources and tips to stay hydrated and safe in the Arizona heat. You can also call 211 to speak to a specialist about heat related services in your area.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency or any symptoms of heat-related illness, call 911 immediately."

Use the website below for more information.

Guide to the Arizona Monsoon for First Timers

Welcome to Phoenix.

You breezed through your first winter — we know, 75 degrees and sunny in January was tough — but you did it. You really liked spring, when you were able to get outside, and even though it's starting to get a little toasty now you're thinking you can handle summer. Because, really, how much hotter can it get?

But you're starting to wonder about this monsoon you've been hearing about.

Even before you got here, people probably showed you pictures of torrential rains flooding the streets, clouds of dust with what appeared to be faces in them swallowing the city and bolts of lightning that stretch for hundreds of miles.

This June 3rd, 2020, article from the Arizona Republic helps to introduce the Monsoon Season to new Arizona residents.

Extreme Heat - Heat Related Illnesses

Heat Safety - Heat-Related Illness

Arizona typically experiences lengthy high temperatures during the summer months. Frequent triple digit temperatures which typically last from May to September can increase a person's risk for a heat-related illness. Nearly 3,000 people visit Arizona emergency rooms because of heat-related illnesses annually. Some heat-related illnesses can even be fatal. Over 2,000 people have died from excessive exposure to heat from 2011-2021.

As a result, the Arizona Department of Health Services has developed a Heat Emergency Response Plan, a Heat Safety Resource Guide, and a bilingual Heat Brochure.

This is another informative article from the Arizona Department of Health Services regarding heat related illness.

Pull Aside - Stay Alive (Arizona PSA)

Don't drive into a DUST STORM! Pull Aside and Stay Alive!

In Arizona, dust storms most frequently occur during monsoon season (June-September) but they can pop up at any time of the year. If you're in a vehicle and a dust storm is approaching, the most important thing to do is to not drive into the dust storm. That's because visibility can drop to zero, leaving you and others driving blind and making for a dangerous situation.

If you encounter a dust storm and don't have time to exit the highway, ADOT has developed these "Pull Aside, Stay Alive" tips and video PSAs to help you know what to do to get home safely.


PSA produced by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Managed by Arizona Department of Transportation

100 N 15th Ave, Ste 302

1655 W Jackson St

Keep Pets Safe in the Heat

How to keep animals cool when temperatures soar.

"The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It's difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity, but things really get tough in areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes with tragic results.

We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in your family stay healthy while hot."

This article from the Humane Society of the United States provides excellent hot weather advice for the safety of your pets.

Extreme Weather and Public Health - Arizona Department of Health Services

Heat Safety - Heat-Related Illness

"Arizona typically experiences lengthy high temperatures during the summer months. Frequent triple digit temperatures which typically last from May to September can increase a person's risk for a heat-related illness. Nearly 3,000 people visit Arizona emergency rooms because of heat-related illnesses annually. Some heat-related illnesses can even be fatal. Over 2,000 people have died from excessive exposure to heat from 2011-2021."

Link to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

National Weather Service - Phoenix, Arizona

NWS Mission:

Provide weather, water and climate data, forecasts, warnings, and impact-based decision support services for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

NWS Vision:

A Weather-Ready Nation: Society is prepared for and responds to weather, water, and climate-dependent events.

Our goal at NWS Phoenix is to provide accurate information about various extreme weather events. These include the Monsoon, flash-flooding, wildfires, dust storms, and extreme heat.

1500 N. Mill Avenue, PAB ITA, Tempe, AZ 85281

About our office -

Our office is located in Tempe, Arizona. We are on duty around-the-clock; our operations run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Due to the importance of our mission, NWS employees are considered "essential" and will not stop working even during rare government shutdowns. We are always on-the-job, committed to the NWS mission of protecting life and property.

You Can Help Prevent Hot Car Deaths

About 40 children a year die from heatstroke, either because they were left or became trapped in a car. That's about one child every 10 days killed in a hot car.


Child Safety -

Hot car deaths is the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. Learn more about keeping children safe in and around a car.

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