Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

The weather of old-time, and modern Phoenix, Arizona


When I first started learning about the history of Phoenix, back in my forties, I decided that I would do my best to go straight to the source. That is, I looked at vintage magazines, not modern articles written about history. I also talked to people older than me who had lived in Phoenix "back in the day". And to my surprise, I found that there really wasn't much agreement about weather.

My research of original documents showed me that the weather in Phoenix has always been very, very hot. And I mean miserable "who in their right mind would live there in the summer?" hot. Yes, the old newspapers showed temperatures over one hundred. And the more research I did the more I found that the climate of the Sonoran Desert, where Phoenix is located, has been the same since the last Ice Age, about ten thousand years ago. It's a desert, and a gigantic desert at that, that stretches on for miles and miles, and the city of Phoenix, as large as it is, is tiny by comparison. The buildings, and roads, and air conditioners running haven't really affected the weather of the Sonoran Desert.

On the other hand, I talked to a lot of people who were convinced that the weather in Phoenix had changed considerablely since their childhood. Back before the (fill in the blank here with whatever comes to mind - freeways, or paved roads, or tall buildings) were built, Phoenix was cool and mild, never really hot. And while I wondered exactly how old these people were, if they were old enough to remember the last Ice Age, it never seemed to make sense to me, until now.

Now as I glide into my senior years, I see what they were saying. Yes, it gets hotter every year. When I first moved to Phoenix, when I was 19, the lack of air conditioning in my car, and my apartment, was a mild inconvenience. I played golf in the summer, at greatly reduced rates, and carried my clubs. And I could go on and on. In other words, nowadays I feel the heat much more than I did twenty years ago. It really can't be me, so it must be getting hotter. Let's see, I guess I'll blame it on the new subdivision that they built just south of me. Yeah, that's it. And now I understand.

Nowadays I try not to ask people if the weather was cooler when they were kids, I know the answer.

Image at the top of this post: Palm trees at the Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.

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