Weather Watchers Capture Phoenix-Area Heat 119 Degrees And Beyond

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 - 5:00am
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017 - 2:35pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.15 MB)
(Photo courtesy of Greg Burkett)
Burkett said he thinks multiple weather stations help strengthen predictions. "Weather is not universally the same throughout the city of Phoenix, afterall," he said.
(Photo courtesy of Josh Wheatley)
"I have been a weather 'geek,' if you will, for the last 18 years or so," said Josh Wheatley. "I have been fascinated with AZ weather, specifically the monsoon."

The Valley hit record temperatures this week, topping out at 119 degrees on Tuesday, but some amateur Valley weather spotters saw even higher temperatures.

Josh Wheatley measures wind, precipitation and temperature from his backyard in Litchfield Park.

“You kinda come to expect the middle part of June to the end part of June, to when the monsoon really starts hitting the Valley ... 115 degree temperatures,” Wheatley said.

This week his station captured its highest temperature since he set it up two years ago.

125 degrees.

Even for an “Arizona boy,” it’s crazy hot hot it gets, Wheatley said. He is one of dozens of Valley weather enthusiasts who maintain personal weather stations and feed the results to the website Weather Underground. You can see all of the Valley weather stations here.

“I've always been interested in the weather particularly because I wanted to know if and when it was going to rain next,” said Greg Burkett, who lives in north Phoenix and has also had a weather station for about two years. His wife purchased it so he could keep tabs on home while he was deployed to Afghanistan.

Burkett says in his job as a pilot, the weather is critical to successful flights. Indeed, Phoenix’s high temperatures grounded planes this week.

National Weather Service Warning Coordination meteorologist  Ken Waters said there are several factors that can influence temperature readings from the urban heat island effect, to the location and height of the weather station. For example, asphalt radiates more heat than a gravel or grass surface.

Waters also tends to a home weather station.

“I guess it’s the geek factor,” he said laughing.  “I’m a data junky, I guess you could say.”

His recorded high this week was 118.1 degrees. Just shy of Phoenix’s max of 119 degrees recorded at Sky Harbor Airport.

“I can’t even tell the temperature between a couple of degrees,” Waters said. “It’s all hot.”

If you like this story, Donate Now!

Like Arizona Science Desk on Facebook