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A guide to temperatures in Southern Arizona.  If you’re thinking about looking into moving to Arizona but the heat factor has you a little freaked out with what you see in the National Weather Forecast, relax, it’s not as awful as they make it sound. I am forever explaining this to my friends who think I’m insane to live in these very hot temperatures in Southern Arizona. This a guide to how to interpret what you see on TV.

Arizona is wildly diverse in it’s geography and it’s temperature range. The elevations range from 70 feet above sea level, on the Colorado River, on the Western boundary of the state, up to mountains in the Northern part of the state at 12,000 feet, where it often gets to below zero and stays there for the winter. (I hear it’s beautiful, but I will be able to report on this only from the inside of a nice warm car as I drive by and take a picture out the window). All of that and the Grand Canyon are in the Northern part of the state. What I’m about to share with you is about the region to the South. The livable part is mostly between Phoenix and Mexico. When you look at a map of Arizona you realize that Phoenix is definitely in the Southern portion of the state.

Arizona_ref_2001When you see the temperatures for Arizona on the national news they’re almost always reporting on the temperature in Phoenix. That’s the largest population but it’s always the hottest spot… pretty much all the time. My friends around the country see this and question my sanity for living here. I explain to them that Phoenix is in the low part of the desert at approx 360 feet. But it varies because this is Arizona and nothing here is only flat. When you see 100 degrees in Phoenix that is not representative of most of the state, most of the time.

I live in a place called Morning Star Ranch, which is greatly different. If it’s 100 degrees in Phoenix then it’s likely to be 12 to 16 degrees cooler where I live. Plus, because it’s at 4,000 foot elevation, there’s almost always a 4-6 knot breeze. And it’s a dry heat. I know, it’s a joke. But, like most things it’s funny because it’s true. 4,000 foot elevation is pretty much the optimal altitude to live at anywhere in the world (though there are some pretty special places not at 4K altitude, I admit) That 12,000 foot altitude that some of the mountains in Northern AZ are at… I get light headed about 10,000 feet. (no jokes are necessary here…)

As a rule, here’s how you can interpret the temperatures so you know what to expect:

If Phoenix is 100 degrees then…

Casa Grande is at about 1,400 foot elevation and  97  (3 degrees less than Phoenix)

Tucson is approximately 2,400 foot elevation and 95  (5 degrees less than Phoenix)

Green Valley is about 3,000 foot elevation and 94  (6 degrees less than Phoenix)

Tubac is at 3,200 foot elevation and 90  (10 degrees less than Phoenix)

Morning Star Ranch, Solero Ranch and Nogales are 4,000 foot elevation and 85-86 degrees (12 to 16 degrees less than Phoenix) This becomes harder to interpret because it’s up in the hills of the Sonoran Desert and the terrain plays a huge role in the winds and the temperatures here.

The temperatures in Southern Arizona often compare favorably to the heat in Texas or Florida, Virginia or the Carolinas because those states are often battling hideous Humidity. Give me a dry 90 degrees any day over 80 degrees and 70-90% humidity of Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami or Washington DC. It’s NOT typically 80 degrees there… it’s hotter and stickier.

Remember, after you’re living here and loving it, when one of your friends suggests that you are insane to live in a place that’s so hot, just say these words to them, “Yes, but it’s a dry heat.” That’ll teach them a lesson.

Russell Palmer

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