When it comes to hot weather, there are places where it seems that no one should be living there. Some of America’s states exhibit highs of heat that just do not make sense, when it comes to human occupation. We are not just talking about triple digit heats, we’re talking sustained triple digit heat that makes everyone run for cover after everything is shut down. For purposes of this discussion, all temperatures are in Farenheit degrees.
Leading the list of hottest states is Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona is the most consistently hot city in America with highs reaching 122 degrees. Tucson, Arizona is next with highs of 117 degrees. One reason that these two cities are hotter than they need to be is that Phoenix sits below 1500 feet in elevation and Tucson is is only 2584 feet above sea level. In fact, the lower half of Arizona sits mostly below 3000 feet above sea level.
Closeness to the equator is also a contributing factor, and Arizona is one of the southernmost states in the Union and therefore gets more direct sunlight. But there is more. There is no ocean anywhere near Arizona where the ocean breezes can penetrate, or draw up moisture to produce rain. Add to that the Sierra mountain range, which draws moisture and air upward, then dumps it on the lush, California (Western) side of the range. The downwind (Eastern) side gets none of the rain. Arizona gets little or no rain from the Pacific Ocean as a result. The Gulf Of Mexico and the Gulf Of California provide what little rain Arizona does get.
Las Vegas, Nevada is in a close third place as the hottest city at 115-117 degrees. But does Nevada qualify as the second hottest state? There is some argument about that, mostly from people who have only been to Nevada, and have not been extensively through Arizona! Nevada does have the lowest and hottest desert, Death Valley, but it shares Death Valley with California. Nevada shares Arizona’s problems with the Sierra Mountain range which sucks up all of the ocean moisture, and Nevada is even farther from the Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico than Arizona.
But Nevada’s elevation map shows what looks to be an average elevation that is well over 4000 feet. Nevada has more features of high desert plains topography than the low desert in Arizona.
Next is California, a state with four cities that rate as the hottest cities in America. But California is borderline as a hot state, because the massive mountain ranges, along with a massive coastline make for a highly variable temperature map. Even San Diego, which sits a bit closer to the equator than Arizona and Nevada, also sits directly on the coast, itself.
Sacramento, California is surprising. Although Sacramento sits less than 1000 feet above sea level, onshore breezes come straight in through the delta. Sacramento sits at the confluence of two major rivers, the Sacramento river and the American River. High air pressure must account for it. But Sacramento’s heat is a topic in the household and neighborhood right now. Rounding up the list are Los Angeles, at 112, Long Beach and San Diego at 111, and Fresno at 112.
Why Arizona is the hottest state.