The Valley of the Sun – Weather in Mesa, Arizona

The Valley of the Sun – a place of intense heat and exceedingly dry land. The valley, which largely encompasses the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, is officially known as the Salt River Valley, aptly named after the largest tributary of the Gila River that runs through Mesa, Tempe, and Phoenix. In the 1930’s, in an effort to boost tourism, the large basin was nicknamed ‘The Valley of the Sun’. The name, if used only to boost the amount of visitors to the Grand Canyon State, fits remarkably. The state of Arizona has set and broken records when it comes to heat, and one of the hottest cities to call Arizona home is Mesa, located right on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. 

Cold weather has hardly ever been associated with the city of Mesa. For nine months out of the year, locals are able to walk outside without the need of heavy snow gear with ease. As the days drag on and the month of May is left behind, Mesa enters its hottest months of the year – June and July. With students out of school for the summer, parents must be wary when sending their children out to play. Heat stroke is very common during an Arizona summer, especially with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. In the summer of 1995, July 27 became the hottest day to ever occur in Mesa. With an unbelievable temperature of 122 degrees and an excessive heat warning sent out by the government, locals were advised to stay inside and try to remain cool during the deadly heat wave. 

While extreme spells of freezing weather have hardly ever been linked to Mesa, Arizona, there has been the rare instance where the temperature has dipped dangerously low – dangerously low for the heat-accustomed locals who lived in the area, that is. On January 14, 2007, the temperature dropped drastically to 20 degrees, the lowest the city had ever seen. Ice formed on the sidewalks and the most miniscule amount of snow fell, a first for the inferno that usually is Mesa. Surprisingly, this temperature was achieved two other times in the city’s history, occurring in more recent years than the first – February 3, 2011, and January 14, 2013. Each experience brought a shock for the people of Mesa, who truly believed that their blazing desert could never reach such a low temperature. 

The Salt River Valley, more commonly known as The Valley of the Sun, is a location of unbearable heat and dry summers. The winters hardly suit their name, bringing with them only the slightest relief from the heat in the form of a cool breeze. Locals are wary of the scorching summers, and welcome the winter with open arms. In a city that feels like the heat will never end, a temperature drop is a welcome and happy surprise. Unfortunately, this overdue relief doesn’t come about very often, leaving locals to accept the newest heat wave each summer brings and cope with each new record-breaking temperature that rolls around.


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Dr. Howard Fern, DC, FIAMA, CME
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