Southern Nevada weather stays below boiling point


Has Las Vegas lost its mojo?

If not its mojo, the city has certainly lost its sense of what a proper summer is supposed to be like.

What happened to 117 degrees? What happened to 115? Heck, we haven't even hit 112 a single time in 2011.

"It's just been a strange year, weather-wise," said Brian Fuis, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. He has been there for more than 20 years. "This is the strangest year I've ever seen."

What's so strange about this year? Well, for starters, it's been so darn cool out there that we can no longer claim bragging rights to being the hottest major city (except Phoenix) in the country. That's always been our title.

It used to be, we would look at those poor folks on the East Coast or down South complaining when the thermometer hit 102 in some massive "heat wave" and laugh a little.

Try gripping your leather-encased steering wheel when it's 137 degrees inside your car, ya lousy whiners!

But not this year. This year, we're walking with our heads down and our shoulders sagging just a little.

In a typical year, Las Vegas hits 110 degrees or higher nine times, on average. There's a week in the middle of July where it's almost always over 110.

This year? Not so much.

We've hit 110 or more only twice, June 22 and July 2.

This July, in fact, was the coolest July we've had since 2001.

But Memphis? Washington, D.C.? Kansas City? Baltimore? Roanoke? Baton Rouge? Atlantic City? Dallas?

Blazing hot. With bonus humidity.

You want examples? Only one is necessary: It was 114 degrees in Little Rock, Ark., on Wednesday.

Here, we're hovering in the 105 area. With bonus breezes brought in by desert monsoons that drop almost no rain.

"I'm used to 117, 120. I've been here 30 years," said Martha Maken, who was relaxing at Bob Baskin Park with her grandchildren the other day.

"This is the first summer I can remember experiencing this kind of heat," said Grace Vazquez, also hanging out at the park.

She said she has lived here for more than a decade. Usually in the summer, she has got to hide indoors once the sun gets high in the sky.

Not this year.

Over at another picnic table, Pedro Gil sat in the shade with his family. He said he has been in Las Vegas for six years. Before that, he was in Colorado for a few years.

"This is like a Colorado heat wave," he said.

Fuis, the weather service guy, said there are reasons for all of this. The high pressure system that usually sits over the Four Corners area -- that's where Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico meet -- all summer long isn't there this year. It moved east.

It's causing those hot as blazes temperatures from Texas to Virginia.

Couple that with low pressure systems that keep coming down the West Coast, and you've got the desert southwest bottled up between two competing systems.

Which means we hover at a pleasant 105 degrees.

Will the suffering ever end? Will Las Vegas get its mojo back soon? Are we going to defy the odds, get to 110 again this summer, and reclaim our rightful position as the nation's (except Phoenix) metropolitan champion of extremely hot weather.

"It's not out of the question," Fuis said. Then he paused, as if to consider a more complete answer.

"But, uh," he said, and then he made a sound that could have been a cross between "yes" and "no."

We'll call that a maybe.

That is how weather forecasting works.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

 

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