Forecast calls for triple digits, 2 weeks early
City employee Mike Botkin talks about the heat as he works at Sunset Park Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the temperature is predicted to reach 100 degrees here for the first time this year.
Summer is still six weeks away, but the heat is already here.
The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures will hit 100 Thursday, which would tie for the sixth earliest date on record for Tucson’s first 100-degree day. The last time it was 100 on May 7 was in 1895.
Tucson’s earliest 100-degree day was April 19, 1989. The latest came on June 22, 1905. The average is May 26.
“I think we’ve got a really good shot at hitting it. I want to say about a 95 percent chance,” said Steven Reedy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Usually at this time of year, temperatures average about 86 degrees in the first week of May.”
But, Reedy said, “We’re running about 10 degrees above average now.”
A high-pressure ridge stretching across the western United States has brought the heat, said meteorologist Mic Sherwood of the National Weather Service.
Now that we know it’s getting hot – what do people do?
“I stay in air conditioning,” Reedy said.
That’s good news for Louise Ayers’ business, A & D Air Conditioning & Refrigeration.
“It (hot weather) speeds it (business) up a little bit,” said Ayers who co-owns the business with her husband and son.
Despite the grim economy, Ayers said her business already has started to pick up because of the heat.
While many customers call for seasonal service as early as March, others don’t call until it gets hot, they turn on their air conditioner and find that it doesn’t work right, Ayers said.
Ayers agrees with Reedy – when it gets hot, stay indoors.
“I stay in the house. We have air conditioning and . . . I stay where it’s nice and cool,” she said.
It’s also expensive.
As air conditioners kick on across the city, homeowners’ electrical use jumps from an average of about 600 kilowatt hours in March to about 1,400 kilowatt hours in July, at a cost of some $140 a month for the average Tucson homeowner, said Joe Salkowski, a Tucson Electric Power Co. spokesman.
Water bills also increase.
In January, Tucsonans pay an average $17.04 for water, said Vikki Hibberd, a Tucson Water spokeswoman.
But in July, the average home water bill rises to $24.72 she said.
And if you own a pool. . .
“Pool business picks up,” said Tim Fellhauer, owner of Presidio Pool & Spa. “It (higher temperatures) does help my business.”
Jose Herrera, owner of Umbrella Roofing, definitely is not looking forward to, if it occurs, 100 degrees in Tucson on Thursday.
“When it’s real warm, for roofers, it’s real warm, real hot. It’s terrible,” said Herrera, who has been in the roofing business 23 years. “We have to have a lot of water. I know how it feels to be up on that roof.”
As the run-up to 100 degrees inched along, Mike Botkin, a groundskeeper with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, cleared leaves and branches from Sunset Park in front of City Hall on Wednesday.
When the temperature reaches 100, Botkin said, “You stay cool as much as you can, drink plenty of water, take your breaks.”
Botkin, 47, was working in the sun at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the tiny park. He wore blue denim shorts, a light blue T-shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat. The high Wednesday was 98, according to the National Weather Service.
“I don’t mind it, you get used to it,” Botkin said. But “I prefer for it to be back in the 80s.”
After work, Botkin said he will go home, “jump in the pool and turn the air conditioner on.”
Timothy Pease, an unemployed tool maker, said 100-degree weather is “a fact of life here in Tucson.”
As Pease, 58, sat and read a book in the shade of a downtown bus stop, he said that when the temperature hits 100, he will avoid being outside as much as possible.
“It’s a little brutal” when it gets that hot, Pease said. “I find the shade, stay in air conditioning.”
Because he’s unemployed, Pease said, he uses his air conditioner less than he used to so as he can save money.
George Ballesteros, 49, a clerk at the Pima County Public Defenders Office, said of the predicted heat for Thursday,”It just makes it seem that summer drags on and on.
Ballesteros said that on Thursday he will avoid doing yard work after 10 or 11 a.m.
And take cold showers “for sure,” he said.
Liz Brown walks through El Presidio Park Wednesday afternoon while trying to avoid the sun.
Timothy Pease, 58, finds some shade as he waits at a bus stop in front of the Old Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave.
Tucson Electric Power’s tips on how to save energy and money:
• Use ceiling or oscillating fans to keep air moving, so you feel cooler without increasing air conditioner use.
• Caulking around door frames and installing weatherstripping around door openings are inexpensive and highly effective means of saving energy.
• Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that carry the Energy Star label. Energy Star-qualified CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. They also generate about 75 percent less heat, so they can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.
• Don’t block vents or ducts inside the house. Maintaining clear air paths allows your cooling and heating systems to work more efficiently.
• About 80 to 85 percent of the energy involved in washing clothes is used to heat the water. There are two good ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes – use less water and lower the temperature. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half.
• The U.S. Department of Energy recommends thermostat settings of 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.
• Use gray water from your washer, bathtubs, showers and bath sinks to irrigate your landscape.
• Put new washers in faucets to stop drips and save up to 50 gallons a day.
• Replace the faulty flapper on the toilet. A running toilet can waste up to 100 gallons of water a day.
• A little soil can make the rain work for you. Build a berm or dig a shallow channel to direct rainwater to your plants. Also, a tree well helps keep water where the tree can use it.
• Gutters, downspouts and cisterns can help store rainwater for use over a longer period of time.
• Water yards early in the morning or in the late evening when it is cooler and more water will soak into the ground instead of evaporating.
On the Web
For more information on the weather, Tucson Water or Tucson Electric Co., visit the following Web sites:
National Weather Service at: www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast
Tucson Electric Power at: www.tucsonelectric.com
Tucson Water at: www.tucsonaz.gov/water
EARLIEST DATES TO HIT 100 DEGREES
1. April 19, 1989
2. April 27, 1992
April 27, 1910
4. April 30, 1943
5. May 2, 1947
6.* May 7, 1895
7. May 8, 2001
8. May 9, 1984
May 9, 1934
May 9, 1923
May 9, 1900
* The National Weather Service predicts the 100 mark could be hit Thursday, tying for sixth-earliest on record.
LATEST DATES TO HIT 100 DEGREES
1. June 22, 1905
2. June 19, 1962
3. June 17, 1967
4. June 16, 1972
5. June 15, 1971
6. June 14, 1931
7. June 13, 1945
8. June 12, 1979
9. June 11, 1953
10. June 10, 1982
June 10 1961
June 10, 1950
Average first occurrence of 100 degrees in Tucson from 1895-2008 is May 26.