Hamilton High School seniors Travis Dixon and Ryan Tonnemacher were pouring sweat with their football teammates at the first practice of the season Monday, teased by forming clouds that did not bring relief.
While wind and dust filled the East Valley sky, there was no rain to ease temperatures that soared to 109 degrees during the day, nearing the record high of 112 degrees. It was so hot that the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory warning people to take precautions.
David Runyan, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said an average Aug. 9 day in Phoenix is 105 degrees and the advisory included the western half of Maricopa County, northwest Pinal County and the Valley, including cities such as Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale and Apache Junction. It warned that the combination of record or near-record high temperatures and lowerthan-normal humidity could be a health hazard.
The advisory suggested that anyone who is outdoors for long periods of time stay in the shade as much as possible and drink plenty of water. It also suggested that those outdoors wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Drinking alcoholic beverages was also discouraged.
The heat was also a factor in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to issue an Ozone Health Watch today for the Valley. Such concentrations can aggravate respiratory conditions, such as asthma. Children, senior citizens and those with respiratory illnesses are at greater risk of having a negative reaction to the ozone concentrations, according the ADEQ Web site.
Hamilton football coach John Wrenn said he and his staff are vigilant about keeping tabs on their players’ conditions during the heat.
"We take it as easy as we can," he said. "We let them go in the shade as often as they want. It’s a tough thing out here, there’s no doubt about it."
Wrenn said the 60 or so players have constant access to as much water as they like as well as iced towels to keep them cool. He also tells his players to consume a gallon of water throughout the day before showing up for practice at 2:30 p.m.
This year’s latest heat advisory came a day after several illegal immigrants ran out of water in the southern Arizona desert and died.
Andrea Zortman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, said 10 people on Thursday crossed the border west of the Lukeville Port of Entry. She said each was carrying three gallons of water, which was gone within a day and a half.
Zortman said that by the time the immigrants were found Sunday morning, five were dead as the result of heat-related problems. She said two were still in the hospital Monday, recovering from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Monday’s high temperature neared the record high for that date — 112 degrees set in 1995, according to the National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina. Arizona matched the high mark for that date just last year.
The low temperature was 89 degrees at 6:35 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The highest low on record was 91 degrees, set on that date last year.
Runyan said Phoenix’s longrange forecast is expected to include above-average highs through September. He said there is usually a lull of storms in the middle of the monsoon, which typically runs from July 7 to Sept. 13.
"We’ll probably see a few more storms," he said. "We’re so quick to forget that on July 13 and 14 of this year we had a storm system where nearly 2 inches of rain fell in some parts of Phoenix."