2016 ties for 3rd-hottest on record in Phoenix

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A cool December helped 2016 avoid being the hottest year in the Valley. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A cool December helped 2016 avoid being the hottest year in the Valley. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

"I was born and raised in Arizona, so I'm used to the heat," said Carlos Tellez, who hikes in the middle of summer. But even for him, it can get too hot.

"Maybe we need a break," Tellez said.

But we may not get it. 2016 just tied for the third-warmest year in Phoenix. Only 2014 and 1989 were warmer.

Andrew Deemer with the National Weather Service's Phoenix office said if it weren't for last month, it would've been even worse.

"We had quite a bit of rain recently. In December, I think we had over an inch," Deemer said. 

One of the reasons it seems to be getting hotter in Phoenix, according to the NWS, is the urban heat island effect. 

The Environmental Protection Agency describes the urban heat island effect as:

The term "heat island" describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.

"That's not going away," Deemer said. "Phoenix is continuing to grow and develop, so we can expect that effect to impact the temperature of the city."

And hotter temperatures mean more strain on our resources.

"Maybe you've turned your car A/C up sooner," Deemer said. "It gets hotter quicker and stays hotter longer now through the year. So instead of using the A/C for six months, we're using it nine months, maybe even in December."

Deemer said it's hard to tell whether this recent wet weather is an indication of what's to come. But we are supposed to see a La Nina year, meaning warm and dry.

"We're going to have to see whether 2017 is the hottest on record," Deemer said. "I sure hope not."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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