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Excessive heat warning in effect for Tucson, Southern Az

Monsoon showers may return next week

Extreme heat and humidity in Southern Arizona are creating dangerous heat — with temperatures as high as 116 degrees — for an area including the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas, the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the deserts west of Tucson.

An excessive heat watch is in effect until 8 p.m. Friday for western Pima County, Tucson, much of Pinal County, and the Upper San Pedro and Upper Gila river valleys, according to National Weather Service officials.

Afternoon temperatures for the area are expected to reach between 102 to 110 degrees.

A separate heat warning lasting until Saturday evening is in effect for southwest Arizona including the Phoenix metro area and Yuma County and southeast and southern California, with afternoon temperatures for that area expected to reach between 108 and 116 degrees.

The extreme heat and humidity significantly increases the risk for heat-related illnesses, especially if working or exercising outdoors.

“Keep in mind you may need to adjust your plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from CDC and your local officials. Cooling shelters may need to take your temperature or ask questions about how you are feeling,” the heat warning reminds.

While Tucson has seen cooler-than-normal high temperatures for most of the month — before this week, the last time thermometers here crept above 100 degrees was August 7 — both Wednesday and Thursday saw highs above the century mark.

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There will be a "slow downward trend in temperatures" beginning this weekend, forecasters said. "Isolated afternoon showers and storms will be possible each day through the weekend before a more active monsoon period begins early next week."

"Tropical Storm Nora is forecast to strengthen as it travels northwestward along the western Mexico Coast towards the Baja Peninsula through early next week," NWS said. "It will begin a weakening process Tuesday into Wednesday as it continues on a northward path towards the Mexico-U.S. border with the remnants of this system potentially pushing into the southwest U.S sometime mid to late next week."

From the Weather Service:

An Excessive Heat Watch means that a period of very hot temperatures, even by local standards, will occur. Actions should be taken to lessen the impact of the extreme heat.

Stay indoors and seek air-conditioned buildings. Drink water, more than usual, and avoid dehydrating alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks. Dress for the heat — lightweight and light-colored clothing. Eat small meals and eat more often. Monitor those with a higher vulnerability to heat, including small children. Check in on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly. If engaging in outdoor activity, take longer and more frequent breaks and avoid the hottest parts of the day. Never leave kids or pets unattended in cars.

Public cooling shelters are available in some areas. Consult county officials for more details, which may include guidance for proper social distancing measures.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Early signs include thirst and muscle cramps. Heat exhaustion may include: cool, moist, pale skin; headache; dizziness; weakness or exhaustion; nausea. The most serious illness is heat stroke, which may include: vomiting; confusion; throbbing headache; decreased alertness or loss of consciousness; high body temperature (above 105F); hot, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; seizures. Heat stroke can be DEADLY. Treat as an emergency and call 911.

Researchers at San Francisco State University conducted a study in 2003 that showed that the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to 114 degrees on a 95 degree day, and will rapidly rise to 140 in under an hour even with the windows open.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member.

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