Nancy Selover, State Climatologist, Doesn't Really Expect 100-Degree Winters in Phoenix, Despite Republic Article

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

We had a temporary, though intense, urge to flee the state after reading Michael Clancy's climate-change apocalypse story in today's Arizona Republic.

Clancy's story describes how climate change could turn Arizona from the paradise it is today into a scorched, polluted, economically challenged wasteland that swelters in winter as well as summer.

Fortunately for us and others who would prefer to stay here, one of the experts Clancy quotes has backed off from the idea that it's likely the Valley will see routine 100-degree temperatures in future Januaries.

Clancy's article states:

Ultimately, in a worst-case scenario, the experts predict a "summer" season running from April to January, with temperatures near or above 100 degrees. Now, the period with those temperatures is about five months.

"With warmer temperatures, snow levels will move higher, meaning we will have less snowpack," said Nancy Selover, the state climatologist.

We called Selover this morning and read her the above passage.

"I don't agree with that at all," Selover says of the part about 100-degree temps from April to January.

Sure, a random and exceptional day in some future January could hit a high of 100 degrees, Selover acknowledges. But she doubts it anything like that would be common. And at this point in climate research, no one knows for certain about such things, she says

One big problem in climate-change models that attempt to predict Arizona's future weather is that none of them currently take the annual monsoon into account, she says. As weather scientists learn more about how monsoons work, the data will be introduced into future climate models. That could have an affect on predictions, she says.

Selover does agree, however, that a warming climate could raise the level of snowpack in Arizona mountains by 500 or 1,000 feet, which would result in less water and more wildfires. But Selover says she avoids going "apocalyptic" about the potential for climate-change problems. Arizona is good about managing water, and future residents will have to learn how to better manage the fire threat.

"If we ever get warmer in the future, we should be able to find ways to deal with it," she says.

As people who call this godforsaken desert home, we certainly hope she's right.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.