120 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona today? Science Center explains why it gets so hot

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jun 19, 2017

PHOENIX, Arizona — The temperatures in Phoenix have been reaching dangerous levels over the last few days, and Tuesday is expected to be the big one, with temperatures nearing 120 degrees.

RELATED: Get hour by hour temperature forecasts with the Storm Shield app


But, did you ever pay attention long enough in science class to understand why our state is so hot?

"Here we are in our low energy state," Matt Huntley with the Arizona Science Center said as he directed a group of kids to walk in a clump near an inside stage.

Since they are so compacted, some bumps happen among the group. But, as Huntley begins to explain, it is all apart of the lesson.

"This is sometimes how heat travels is stuff bumping into each other," Huntley told them.

This was a heat demonstration Huntley involved them all in to try and explain what heat actually is.

"Heat is a measure of motion," Huntley explained. "That's the point. When we measure heat and we measure temperature, we're measuring how much molecules are moving around." 

And as for why Arizona gets the brunt of it, Huntley said we can blame that on where we sit along the equator. That spot gets the most heat and heat rises.

"Hot air falling down also creates a high-pressure system," Huntley described. "Which is pretty much here in Arizona all the time, which keeps out moisture, keeps it very, very clear, and that just make it even hotter!"

ABC15  television station in Phoenix stepped outside on one of the Arizona Science Center's decks for a quick reading with our temperature radar gun. It was roughly 150 degrees.

Huntley also explained that the concrete surrounding Phoenix is not helping our temperatures. He said the use of concrete, asphalt and glass do not mix well with the sun.

"All those materials have really high heat capacity," Huntley said. "Which means they hold a lot of heat."

So, from where we are located on the globe to what we have built around us, the roughly 120 degrees is just part of the deal of living in the desert.