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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 was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.