Saturday, July 29, 2023

Searing Arizona Heatwave That's Delivered 110F Weather For 30 Days Straight Kills Off State's Iconic Cactuses

Searing Arizona heatwave that's delivered 110F weather for 30 days straight kills off state's iconic cactuses, as locals bake cookies in CARS and complain of melting roads 
A searing heat wave that continues to blister much of the US is so hot that even Arizona's iconic cactuses are dying off. In Phoenix, Saturday is forecast to be the 30th consecutive day with high temperatures above 110F, a streak that has shattered all records for the city, with fatal results. At the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, saguaro cactuses, a symbol of the US West, are drooping, shriveling and in some cases toppling over during the record streak of extreme heat. Residents of the area have taken to TikTok to highlight the staggering effects of the intense heat, showing cookies baking on car dashboards, rubber dog toys melting in the sun, and roads soft enough to leave footprints. The heat wave has had deadly consequences as well, with at least 25 confirmed heat-related deaths and 249 more pending investigation in Maricopa County, the area surrounding Phoenix, so far this summer.At the Desert Botanical Garden, plant physiologists are studying just how much heat cactuses can take. The garden has specimens representing has over two-thirds of all cactus species, including iconic saguaros which can grow to over 40 feet tall. Until recently, many thought the plants were perfectly adapted to extreme high temperatures and drought. Arizona's heat wave is testing those assumptions. 'These plants are adapted to this heat, but at some point the heat needs to cool down and the water needs to come,' Tania Hernandez, a research scientist at the garden, told Reuters this week. The last time rain was measured at the Phoenix airport was March 22, a dry spell of 130 days so far. Even overnight lows have been boiling. On Wednesday, the overnight temperature in Phoenix fell under 90 degrees for the first time since July 9, ending a 16-day run with lows at 90 or above. Experts say cactuses need to cool down at night or through rain and mist. If that does not happen they sustain internal damage. Plants now suffering from prolonged, excessive heat may take months or years to die, Hernandez said.  Source

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