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Why is Arizona So Hot? 3 Major Causes You Must Know

Have you ever wondered why is Arizona so hot? With a temperature that scales as high as 97°F to 105°F, which rarely goes below 32°F or above 110°F, Arizona suffers from extreme climatic conditions which makes it a hot state of the United States.

Normally, the question arises – Why is Arizona so hot?

Why is Arizona So Hot?

Various factors contribute to the high temperatures in the Grand Canyon state of the United States of America.

To name a few, the latitudinal extent of the state, a high-pressure system that prevents cloud formation, the continental position of the state, less natural vegetation, and the dry air conditions of the state contribute tremendously to heating the atmosphere.

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You’d be surprised to know that while the southern parts of the state remain hot throughout the year with temperatures that are at an all-time high range, the northern parts of the state tend to be cooler.

The state of Arizona does not have uniform climatic conditions throughout its landscape. Some parts experience extremely hot temperatures that have gone as high as 122°F, while many others have considerably cooler climatic conditions and experience snowfall!

Interestingly enough, this variation in climate is experienced even in areas of the same latitude. Though, overall the Copper State of America experiences an arid or semi-arid climate.

Climatic Conditions in Arizona

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Did you know that the highest temperature recorded in Arizona was 128 °F, which equals 53 °C? It was measured in the Lake Havasu City of Arizona and was recorded on the 29th of June in 1994, and the 5th of July in 2007.

This can be owed to the arid type of climate found in the state.

To further understand the complexities of the climate, let us look over the following two different features of climate geography prevalent in the state individually which will help in understanding the main question – Why is Arizona so hot?


Since we are discussing the extremely hot conditions of the southwestern state of America, which is often regarded as the hottest too, it is only logical we begin with the temperature of the Grand Canyon state, Arizona.

Throughout the year, the daytime temperatures of Arizona remain high owing to the dry conditions of the climate.

Like any desert area, Arizona has a dry climate motivated by the warmth of the landscape which acts opaque to the long wave radiation radiating off from the earth’s surface, thus not allowing it to escape.

It is also interesting to know that the state also experiences snowfall in some parts of the region during the winter season.

Temperatures range from 10 to 27 °C (50 to 81 °F) in mid-July in the center of the state located at Flagstaff. Whereas in mid-January, the temperatures range from −10 to 5 °C (14 to 41 °F). If you wonder if Arizona is a good place to live, read here!


Precipitation in Arizona occurs in the form of rainfall and even snow. It is majorly seasonal though and depends largely on the elevation of the areas.

While the southwestern desert region of Arizona experiences warm temperatures and high heat, the southeastern and central mountain ranges of the state get rainfall in the summer season by moisture-laden winds picking up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

During the winter season, storm surges originate from the Pacific Ocean and accumulate snow in the mountainous regions of the state.

Why is Arizona so hot? 3 Major underlying causes

One thing which has to be noted is that not entire Arizona remains hot throughout the year.

It is only the southwestern part of the state which is a desert, and owing to arid climatic conditions, experiences extreme temperatures. The following given points intend to explain this extreme heat island condition of the state.

1. Location

The state of Arizona is situated in the southwestern USA, and in the North American continent of the world. The latitudinal extent of Arizona is 34.048927 (34° 2′ 56.1372” N), and the longitudinal extent of the state is -111.093735 (111° 5′ 37.4460” W).

Additionally, the tilt of the earth and proximity to the equator are major contributing factors in heating the state. Arizona is an American state situated in the Northern Hemisphere of the globe.

2. Landscape, and vegetation

why is arizona so hot
Image by TheDigitalArtist from Pixabay

The sixth largest state of the USA in terms of the area encompasses a diverse relief. The area of the state which experiences extreme heat is the desert region which lies in the southwestern parts of Arizona.

These include the Sonoran desert, Mojave desert, Painted Desert, and Chihuahuan desert. Naturally, these areas are hot because of the quick heating of the sand. The dry air heats faster because of the absence of much humidity.

This is generally what is called “dry heating”. It is easier for dry air to get heated up than humid air. Arizona is a dry heat island.

As you guessed, this explains why some parts of Arizona are cool at the same time when many areas remain a boiling pot. The elevation is the cause!

With height, the temperature falls. The normal lapse rate is a 1° C fall in temperature for every 165 m rise in altitude. This is exactly why Death valley which is much lower in elevation is the hottest, and so is Phoenix. Closeness to the sea plays a role too.

The vegetation of a place is a natural way that keeps the temperature of a place cooler. Simply because CO2 is absorbed in the process of photosynthesis and this lowers the temperature in turn.

Sadly enough, there is very less natural vegetation in the state which cannot prevent the high heat.

A normal experience of the state is that the nights do not cool down as tremendously as they did before, which is a common phenomenon in any desert.

This is because more and more parts of the state are covered by high-rise buildings and lack tree cover. Heat gets trapped without any escape. This has made Arizona an “Urban Heat Island.”

3. High-pressure conditions

Temperature and pressure are interrelated. Arizona is a desert, and it is extremely hot. Consequently, high-pressure conditions prevail in the area which further intensifies the heat of the region.

This happens because the high-pressure condition prevents the formation of cloud cover, which means a lack of rainfall.


Similar to the climatic condition of any region which depends upon various geographical features, and human interference that modify it, several factors holistically contribute to the extreme heat of the state of Arizona in America.

These include the northern location of the state, arid landscape features, lack of humidity, high-pressure conditions, and the absence of cloud cover.

Deforestation, the absence of natural vegetation cover, and buildings made of heat-absorbing material like asphalt, etc play a major role too.

In the short run, the extreme temperatures of Arizona demand air conditioning. But it is only when we preserve and take care of our environment that will prove fruitful in the long run!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Arizona the hottest state?

Yes, it is, also, the ten states with the highest annual average temperatures do have fewer seasons than their northern neighbours and estimated yearly temperatures exceeding 60°F (15.5°C).

2. Is Arizona hot all the time?

In Arizona, the average number of days with clear skies and pleasant temperatures per year is a little over 300.

Contrary to popular belief, Arizona has a wide range of weather based on where you are, with the majority of the year being hot and dry.

3. Why is it getting hotter in Arizona?

Arizona is used to a scorching desert climate, but due to global warming and unrestrained growth, which has resulted in the creation of a vast urban heat island, day and night temperature changes have been increasing.

Hoping to read more about the region? Find the best places to live in Arizona, despite the extremity of the warmth, by clicking right here.

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Gourvi gupta