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If there is a road to Hell it is I-40 into Needles, California. The combination of intense desert heat and Colorado river valley humidity streaming from the steaming Gulf of California makes it, arguably, the most miserably hot town in America in July and August. In this summer of record heat misery, Needles destroyed the all time world record for hot rain when 115°F rain briefly pelted the town on Monday before it quickly turned to steam and evaporated. Lightning from the storm set vegetation surviving along the riverside afire on both sides of the Colorado, completing the scene of Hell on earth.

A searing heat wave rare even for the Desert Southwest sent temperatures soaring to record levels on Monday, with Needles, California tying its record high for the date of 118°F (47.8°C). The temperature might have gone higher in Needles, but a thunderstorm rolled in at 3:20 pm, and by 3:56 pm PDT, rain began falling at a temperature of 115°F (46.1°C). Most of the rain evaporated, since the humidity was only 11%, and only a trace of precipitation was recorded in the rain gauge. Nevertheless, Monday's rain at 115°F in Needles sets a new world record for the hottest rain in world history.  ....

According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the previous record for hottest rain, which I blogged about in June, was a rain shower at 109°F (43°C) observed in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on June 5, 2012 and in Marrakech, Morocco on July 10, 2010. The 11% humidity that accompanied Monday's rain shower at 115°F in Needles was the lowest humidity rain has ever occurred at anywhere on Earth in recorded history, according to Mr. Herrera.

Lightning from the hot thunderstorm set a fire in marshland along the Colorado River in a park on the south side of Needles and 60 mile per hour winds spread the embers to the Arizona side of the Colorado starting a second fire.
Fires likely caused by lightning strikes and driven by strong winds continue to burn on both sides of the Colorado River near Needles.

On the California side, as of 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, about 60 acres of marshland has burned south of Jack Smith Memorial Park in Needles, said Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, in a news release.

There is weather. There is summer. There is summer weather. But this is Hell on earth.
This is what climate change looks like in the desert southwest: Hell.

The first two weeks of August were the hottest two weeks on record in Phoenix Arizona.

The average high temperature was scorching record high of 111.2 °F.
The average temperature for the two weeks was a record 100°F.

On August 11, 2012 a downdraft from a thunderstorm caused a dust storm called a haboob over Phoenix, Arizona. The storm increased the misery but did not break the record heat.

Inclosed in the orange border are text and Tables from NOAA/NWS Phoenix office.


Rare Prolonged Excessive Heat Event in Phoenix, Arizona (August 6-14)


Ask anyone in southeast California and southern Arizona about temperatures in the summer, and you'll likely get a similar response - it's always hot. And you're also likely to not get an argument. However, the first two weeks of August 2012 has brought back bad memories of the latter half of August 2011 - that is, almost unbearable heat. The biggest question is: How unusual has this first 2 weeks of August been? The answer: Very rare. And the remainder of this web page will summarize how rare, and list the multitude of records set in the first 14 days of the month.


Why has it been so hot for so long at the beginning of August? During the first week of the month, a strong ridge of high pressure aloft moved westward from the southern plains, and became parked over the Desert Southwest. This pattern has remained stagnant since the 6th of the month, and provided record breaking heat over a 9 day period.

The list of daily, weekly, and consecutive days records during the 9 day stretch from August 6-14 is most impressive. Here is a summary of some of these rankings and records:


Rankings for the first 2 weeks of August (1st-14th)

Year Avg Daily Temperature
Year Avg High Temperature
Year Avg Low Temperature



Record High Temperatures

Old Record
Aug 7th
112 in 1905
Aug 8th
113 in 1991 & 1940
Aug 9th
112 in 2003, 1995 & 1933
Aug 12th
114 in 2007
Aug 13th
113 in 2003 & 1962
Aug 14th
113 in 1988
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