Why Is Arizona so Hot? Summer Vibes

If you live in Arizona, you may be used to the heat already, but to tourists and visitors, Arizona can be unbearably hot, especially during the summer months. May to September is the hottest month for Arizona. If you’ve often asked yourself “why is it so hot here?” there are many reasons why it gets so hot in this state.

How Hot Is There Actually?

Arizona hot weather

Due to the generally dry climate in Arizona, residents in the state experience extremely high temperatures during the summer months during the daytime. Consider June 16th, 2016, a hot day where the outside temperature in Phoenix reached 118 degrees Fahrenheit while the temperature in Tucson reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though these temperatures were significantly hotter than the summer average (temperatures this day broke daily heat records across Arizona), they are still indicative of the unique position Arizona finds itself in.

Summer temperatures in Arizona usually lie in the 90 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit range. The circumstances which lead to these kinds of hot Arizona days vary, but one contributing factor will always be the geographical and topographical location the state resides.

Arizona’s Location Contributes to How Hot It Gets

Arizona’s Location

One of the barriers between the state of Arizona and the cool air that flows in from the Pacific Ocean is the Laguna Mountains in California. Without the cool ocean air flowing in, the valley stays hot. And the valley that Phoenix sits in is surrounded by mountains, which leads to an updraft of heat, rain, and clouds that can’t make it inside of the valley. This causes higher air pressure to build up, and this also keeps the clouds away.

Arizona is also located downwind of the mountains. When it rains, the precipitations rise, and then cool and condense into clouds. Those rain clouds then bring precipitation up the side of the mountains and then down, and when it goes down it compacts and heats up. This makes the air drier than it was when it was upwind of the mountains.

There’s constantly high air pressure over Arizona because it’s so hot too. Due to the high pressure, air sinks, which means clouds can’t form. Since there’s no rain, there’s no humidity, but that just means the dry air heats up faster without any humidity to absorb heat.

Urban Heat Island

An Urban Heat Island, or UHI, is an area that experiences consistently higher temperatures than surrounding areas because of buildings that retain heat, and a lot of concrete and asphalt in the area. They are hotter than rural areas, contain a higher population, and demand more energy for utilities like air conditioning.

A great example of a heat island is Phoenix, AZ. A lot of times the heat can cause dust storms and poorer air quality because it stays in a heat bubble. Because of all the development that has happened, there’s less natural vegetation, and vegetation is a natural way to help the temperature stay cooler.

The past 30 years have shown that temperatures at night are not as low as they used to be. Nights no longer cool down and this has a lot to do with people building more and more structures and taking up more land.

Close to the Equator and has Higher Elevation

world map - las vegas and phoneix

Another reason its location makes it so hot is its proximity to the equator. It’s about 2,300 miles from the equator, which is close enough to mean it receives a lot of the sun’s energy, especially at the end of the year.

The summer days are longer in the Northern hemisphere and due to the tilt, this means long days in the sun, and more time in the heat. Elevation also plays a role in the temperature.

Higher elevations tend to keep places cooler, but lower elevations mean places stay hot. A lot of parts of Arizona sits at low elevation. Phoenix, for example, sits at 1,000 feet, which is pretty low. These two combined make the heat stay all year round in Arizona.


Does Arizona’s climate vary significantly across the state?

Yes, Arizona’s climate varies, with the northern region experiencing cooler temperatures due to higher elevation, while the southern parts, like Phoenix, face intense heat.

How does Arizona’s heat impact wildlife and vegetation?

The intense heat affects local flora and fauna, adapting them to survive in arid conditions. Some species thrive, while others face challenges due to extreme temperatures.

Are there specific health advisories for Arizona’s summer heat?

Health advisories often focus on staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during peak heat hours, and recognizing signs of heat-related illnesses.

How does Arizona’s heat influence energy and water usage?

Higher temperatures lead to increased energy demand, primarily for cooling, and put a strain on water resources, necessitating efficient usage and conservation measures.

Can the heat in Arizona affect the durability of buildings and infrastructure?

Yes, prolonged exposure to extreme heat can accelerate wear and tear on infrastructure, requiring materials and designs adapted for high-temperature conditions.

Does Arizona have any initiatives to mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect?

There are initiatives focusing on increasing green spaces, enhancing building efficiency, and using materials that reflect rather than absorb heat.

Final Words

Understanding Arizona’s heat involves a complex interplay of geographical, topographical, and human-made factors. From the blocking of cool ocean air by mountains to the Urban Heat Island effect in cities like Phoenix, multiple elements contribute to the state’s scorching summers. Awareness and adaptation are key in coping with these extreme temperatures.