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Tue, April 23

Where’s the rain? El Nino hasn’t been delivering it; slight chance Monday for that to change

Corey Whitcher naps in the outfield sun during a spring baseball game between in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday.

Corey Whitcher naps in the outfield sun during a spring baseball game between in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday.

Phoenix enjoys winter heat wave

PHOENIX (AP) — Winter in Phoenix has been looking a lot like summer.

Since February, a heat wave has been breaking records right and left. Instead of sitting outside on a balmy day, visitors in town for spring training baseball games are reclining in sweat-drenched clothes.

David Tuason, of South Pasadena, California, took a break from a business conference to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies practice. He knew outside would be warm — just not this warm.

“It was like noon when I played hooky for an hour, and I was sweating like crazy in my suit. I had sweat patches on my light blue dress shirt,” Tuason said. “I stayed in my car and blasted the air conditioning to dry off before I went back to the meeting.”

It will only get hotter before it gets better. The high temperature in Phoenix on Friday reached 88 degrees, tying the record. The high for Thursday was 91, tying a record set in 1921. The average high around this time is in the mid-70s, according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

“We’re literally very, very above normal,” meteorologist Bianca Hernandez said.

In February, a daily high temperature record was broken six times. There were also two days where the low temperature for the day reached a record high of 59 degrees.

Tuason brought his wife and 16-month-old son to see the San Francisco Giants play the Los Angeles Angels in Scottsdale on Wednesday. The couple had anticipated temperatures in the 70s or even 80 degrees.

“We didn’t expect 91. That’s for sure,” Tuason said. “So we were going to the shade in the outfield even though our seats were behind home plate. We were walking around in the shade just to cool off.”

The warm conditions during the past month are thanks to different high-pressure systems that have been hovering over the Southwest, Hernandez said. The high pressure creates a warm air mass high up in the atmosphere.

“Literally, it’s just circulating all this warm air. We aren’t going to be able to cool down a lot,” Hernandez said.

The heat has nothing to do with the weather patterns of El Nino. While El Nino can tilt the odds toward wetter weather, it’s not a guarantee. Phoenix sees less than an inch of rain on average in February, meteorologist Mark O’Malley said. But there was zero precipitation last month — only the seventh time in recorded history.

“In 2014, we went with no rain in the month of February,” O’Malley said. “It’s not completely unusual, but it’s not normal either.”

PRESCOTT – Meteorologists predicted a strong El Nino effect this winter, one that could help reverse the long-standing drought, but so far, we haven’t seen much rain.

Where did it go?

Let’s recap. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines El Nino like this: “The term El Nino refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.”

Note that the definition does not include any mention of rain. That part is an effect forecasters predict will occur.

“(El Nino is) still going on. It’s still strong,” National Weather Service meteorologist Cory Mottice said. “It’s pretty typical to get dry spells at El Nino. This one is a little longer than normal.”

But, he added, the expectation for an El Nino year is that rain and snow will likely be higher than usual over the course of the whole winter season.

“As far as the precipitation goes, many areas across northern Arizona are still above normal on precipitation for the season,” he said. “Even though it’s been dry here, it’s been wetter than average.

Still, there’s hope on the horizon. Mottice said the weather pattern is likely to change tomorrow into Monday, and that could signal the return of rain and snow to Arizona.

“It looks like it’s finally going to happen. What that means is … we’re going to start seeing more frequent storms.”

Follow Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy. Call him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2038, or 928-642-7705.

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