Ariz. heats up ‘The New York Times’

Myron Tom, a construction worker in downtown Phoenix, staying hydrated while working in 110-degree heat on Tuesday. / Joshua Lott for The New York Times

Record temps continue

By Fernando Santos

PHOENIX — Hot is a relative term for people used to the scorching summer weather in this city built on land better suited for cactus than lawns. But nine straight days of excessive heat seem to have stretched even the most elastic tolerance levels to their limits.

It is too hot here for anyone to laugh at jokes about rattlesnakes battling humans for the littlest piece of shade, too hot for spicy Mexican food in the barrio, too hot for the lone protester who has been camping out in front of the county courthouse to maintain his vigil past 5 p.m.

“That’s when I pack up and go home,” the protester, Chet Molandis, who was born in Texas and raised in Arizona, said at high noon on Monday before taking a drink of water from the canteen he keeps close by. “There’s no outlasting this heat.”

The temperature rises cruelly here as the day goes on — hot in the morning, very hot by midday and still hot late at night. While that is not uncommon for August, when the mercury breaches the triple digits practically every day, it has been particularly vicious of late as the same routine has played out day after day.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning on Aug. 6 and has extended it all the way through 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Ken Waters, the agency’s warning-coordination meteorologist in Phoenix, spoke cautiously, though, saying there is “a little bit of relief” in sight, but “not much, really,” just “a bit of a drop in temperatures.”

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