Report: Scorching heat bakes the Southwest in mid-June 2016 | Part I

Tom Di Liberto, NOAA


Temperatures rose to well in excess of 100°F across the desert southwest of the United States over the previous week. The unbearable heat broke numerous daily temperature records for this time of year and ranked in the top five hottest days ever for multiple cities throughout the region. While the U.S. Southwest is used to hot temperatures, conditions from June 18 – 22 were life-threatening.


The extreme heat and dryness served as the perfect recipe for wildfires. Fires have broken out in southern California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Wildfires in the Los Angeles suburbs have burned over 5,000 acres. In Arizona, three large wildfires have consumed 65,000 acres, while fires in New Mexico have impacted 53,000 acres.

The cause of this event was an expansive area of high pressure that sat over the southwestern United States.