Metro Phoenix

File photo of downtown Phoenix skyline.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- We all know that last year, 2020, was a hot one for Arizona. In Phoenix, we set 18 daily record highs. Now, if I asked you how many record lows did we set in 2020, you’d probably guess it’s a trick question.

The answer is zero. None. No record lows were set in Phoenix in 2020. But if I told you it’d been more than 30 years since we set a record low, would that surprise you?

It’s true. The last time we set a low-temperature record was December 23, 1990. We dropped to 26 degrees breaking the previous record of 28 for that date. Here comes the stuff that surprised me.

The folks over at the National Weather Service in Phoenix put together this chart on record lows, including days where we tied or broke a daily record.

Daily Record Lows Phoenix, AZ

Source: National Weather Service Phoenix

That’s an amazing graphic. It’s as if record lows stopped happening in the mid-70s.

Since 1925, the chart doesn’t show much that catches the eye. But check out the mid-60s. Phoenix was setting a lot of low-temperature records. Then the 70s started.

Since 1975, there have only been three (3) record lows recorded at Sky Harbor Airport. (Remember, the above chart shows ties, too.) Actual record lows were set on December 7, 1978, April 11, 1979, and the aforementioned December 23 of 1990. That’s pretty crazy data.

One more thing while I’m on stuck cold temps. The last time we were below freezing at Sky Harbor was January 2, 2019, when we dropped to 30 degrees. But we’ve only been at/or below freezing five days in the past decade. It used to be, more or less, an annual thing that we dropped below freezing every winter. But then the 70s started.

It’s pretty clear from this info, and tons of other more researched scientific articles, that Phoenix is getting warmer. Is it due to global warming, or is it due to urbanization, the tremendous growth of Phoenix? Most researchers will tell you it’s a mixture of both. Some will even venture it’s about a 50-50 mix.

3TV Chief Meteorologist Royal Norman always has his eye on the radar and how weather conditions might affect the people of Arizona.  He also loves telling those quintessential stories that are uniquely Arizona. With 35 years of experience forecasting weather and his vast knowledge of Arizona and its micro climates, Royal is an Arizona Weather Authority. 

Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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