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Climate change was only part of the problem during record heat wave in Phoenix

As the Valley’s hottest summer slowly winds down, Arizonans might think they are getting a taste of what a hotter climate might look like in the future.

Although climate change played a role in Phoenix’s hottest summer on record, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Part of the problem is that an El Nino pattern has settled over the state, driving summer moisture from the atmosphere and leading to a weak monsoon.

"When the monsoon is weak across the Southwest, we don’t get the clouds, we don’t get the moisture, it leaves us under the sun, and so it leaves us really vulnerable to the sun, and it’s like June never ends," said Michael Crimmins, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona.

He said some areas of the state did get rain, which resulted in lower temperatures.

But that moisture didn’t reach Phoenix, which also had to deal with the heat island effect.

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Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.