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July 24, 2023


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Jon, Accurately presented, AGAIN!

Although Helen and are offended that we are UNsightiful.
We are still guzzling beer.
The insightful Martini sippers have left the room.
And Phoenix.
The "Good News" by Edward Abbey lets you know how it ends. In fire!

cal, being called un-insightful is not as bad as being called unsightly as I stroll down Van Buren in my short shorts and tube top looking for clients for my investment firm, Wi, Cheatum & Howe. A 72 year old gal has to do what she has to do to supplement those social security checks.

From one of the lesser insightful ones :-) -- My grade school, St. Thomas at 24th Street and Campbell -- also did not have A/C in the 1950s and early 1960s. The school year started the Tuesday after Labor Day, and September was usually a little uncomfortable, but the school did have evaporative coolers, and those did help a bit. I have to wonder if Jon was on one of the lower floors of Kenilworth, with the floor and rooms above providing some insulation. (St. Thomas was one-story.)

Cacti have a metabolism that is unique:


Like all plants, cacti take up carbon dioxide to use for photosynthesis, the creation of sugars to power maintenance of tissues and growth. To conserve water, cacti open their stomata (pores) to take up carbon dioxide only during the cooler period of the desert night. The signal is air temperature, and the cacti will open their pores once the temperature falls below about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

A succession of nights in which the temperature never falls below 90 can be brutal for our cacti. They literally start starving to death since they cannot take in the CO2 they need to photosynthesize their food.

In short, anthropogenic, unnaturally high nighttime temps could actually kill our Sonoran Desert cacti (and agaves, since they employ the same metabolic strategy).

BTW, Phil Boas, the Republic's house conservative, dismissed the focus of the national and international media on our current heat wave: We have always adapted and coped with the heat and will continue to do so; nothing to see here. So he said.

What he missed is that the current string of 110+ days is unprecedented in Phoenix's 120-year weather history, as is the perhaps even more concerning string of 90+ degree nights. We are in uncharted territory and, no, Phil, we have not had to cope with this before.

Helen, last i knew 60 percent of Van Buren street walkers were males dressed as women. A "smart" john checks before paying. Maybe!

Joe, Phil Boas is nice guy that has probably been at the Arizona Republc newspaper longer than any current employees. However his "positive" opinion MIGHT be based on a myth that its ok to burn down earth as death here leads to living forever in a perfect place. You might even get to be a god.

This reminds me of three Joes with influence in the Deserts. Of course you, Joe are one of the 3.

Humans are currently murdering the Great Sonoran Desert. But by 2075 it will be returning bigger. Daily i note desert grass rising thu the concrete.

A phenomenon I notice more with each passing year is the disparate temperatures between the "official" station at Sky Harbor and pretty much everywhere else. I am a weather geek and track such things, I routinely observe that Sky Harbor is at least 4-5 degrees warmer than most other locations in the metro area.

Not hard to understand, in the past 30 years or so there have been tens of thousands of acres turned into asphalt and concrete for new runways, expanded terminals, parking etc. etc. Add in about 100+ jet engines revving at any one time and it is unsurprising this is the hottest, driest place in the metro area.

It's almost lost any value as a long term reference point for tracking climate data. So I'm good with those numbers being what goes out to the rest of the country in the hopes that people WILL STOP MOVING HERE! The more extreme, the better...

I am NOT a street walker.

I have a scooter.

It has an umbrella, a debit machine and water dispenser.

It also has a big sticker that says NO REFUNDS.

And a faded Trump\Pence sticker. I bought it in Sun City.

DoggieC -- I keep temperature and humidity sensors on my patio in PV, not in direct sunlight. The temp always runs a degree or two cooler than the gauge at Sky Harbor, though that may be due to the adiabatic lapse rate -- I'm at 1400 feet above sea level whereas the airport is at 1100. A check of surrounding stations on Weather Underground confirms, at least this afternoon, that up here we're just a degree or two cooler than the airport. Could it be the white paint the City of Phoenix used on our street? :-)

Adiabatic lapse.

I had that once when my stomata wouldn't open.

A wet towel around my neck and a cold beer in a glass from the freezer fixed me up.

You weather geeks would be amazed that in the town of Payson, measuring 4 miles by five miles, has multiple Weather Underground reporting stations showing vastly different recordings for temperature, wind, rainfall, snowfall.

A very hilly terrain, plus being at the edge of the FIRST rise before the FINAL rise up to the rim makes for different weather conditions almost neighborhood by neighborhood.

@ AZRebel -- :-)

Wet towel and a cold beer also a good antidote for geeking out too much.

You People really are an in-group of naysayers. Do some decent reporting and see who is doing some positive work on the problems.
Very tiresome.

NO, No, Not naysysers IMH0. Jon starts off a current topic and from it comes durned good conversation, with a lot of humor, tongue-in cheek back & forth, (Helen Highwater) and info that very few know.
I came here in 1963 and I like to hear/read about the younger days. From this edition, I learned that cacti can die if it gets TOO HOT.
At one time I had a yard full of plants, from roses to tomatoes, from radishes to succulents. With sand from the river bottom and leaves from my neighbors I had happy snails in mulch piles and they created good dirt to enliven the soil.
Now (at 95) I have (had) a good-looking basil (from seed) on my patio handling 110 but couldn't take 115. I was thinking maybe a couple of cacti until Joe educated me on their unhappiness with our weather.
Hate to give up on having something alive and green around, but my consolation is that I am not going to be around long enough to see Phoenix go down in flames.(Abbey's Good News)
Actually I think Phoenix will petrify. (Return to Sanctuary - Plague)
But in the meantime, will stay happy with Jon's Rogue columns.

Stephanie Olivet

Positive work?

You have the floor:


I suspect Stephanie Olivet is a variation of a name.
If so she is a happy person traveling the world and reading many novels.

Personally i get depressed reading positive stuff.

However currently im reading a novel i recieved for my 83 birthday.

Since Raymond Chandler died i find very few novels to be novel. Just rearrangments.

Well the GOOD NEWS is its alleged to be 118 today in Phoenix. One wonders why people would move here from places like Oregon?

I tire of folks complaining about the heat and cold. Move to Hawaii.

My physical therapist just moved here from Spokane Washington with her boyfriend. They just keep coming, so don't expect any changes until the ultimate collapse when the water is gone and the air conditioning fails. It's Chinatown Jon.

Stephanie Olivet

Take two

Positive work?

You have the floor.


Stephanie Olivet

The most recent "positive news" about solving our "problems" occurred about a month ago.


Next day the governor, state and county announced: WE AINT GOT NO STINKING WATER PROBLEM. WE GOT MUCHO WATER. FOLKS, KEEP ON MOVING HERE.

Is that some of the positive problem solving you are silent about???

In this land of scams, I think my two favorites are the "don't worry, there's plenty of groundwater, so build your subdivisions as far away from a sustainable source of water as you want" and, that old reliable, school vouchers.

Both are designed to profit the few at the expense of the many, and are therefore especially beloved by Republicans.

Well hell. Almost literally.

I thought Stephanie Olivet was going to lead us out of the blistering desert and into the land of milk and honey and jalapeño jelly.

And now we learn the aliens are here. For how long? Was Jesus a spaceman? Did the Romans crucify ET?

We have possession of non-human biologics.? In Tupperware in a freezer?

Dianne Feinstein. Mitch McConnell. Joe Biden. ???
Our country is being run by the Walking Dead? Term limits?

I think I’m getting dizzy. Must be the heat.

In a side conversation I had with Ruben, we talked about the point at which Arizona began to burn. He nominated the catastrophic Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002, which affected him personally and which was unprecedented at the time.

I countered that the harbinger was an earlier fire.

Ruben suggested I post my observations here, and I got the OK from the Rogue Master... so, herewith:

. . . It is hard to believe it has been 21 years since the Rodeo-Chediski Fire.

I drive through the Rodeo-Chediski burn area at least once a year, if not more often. Much of it appears to be coming back as grassland with shrubs and small trees such as New Mexican locust and junipers. What I am not seeing are young Ponderosa pines. They do not appear to be regenerating.

Interestingly, long before climate change and megafires, the Riordan brothers, who operated a logging business out of Flagstaff, noticed that Ponderosa pine did not seem to regenerate on their large clear-cuts. They asked the Forest Service to investigate, and in the 1920s Forest Service scientist C.K. Cooperrider published a paper summarizing his findings, which were that Ponderosa pine regenerates only very slowly from the edges of uncut stands. Seeds blown out into the open spaces of the clear-cuts did not fare well.

In short, even without the challenge hotter conditions may present to Ponderosa pine seedlings, those huge fire scars of the Rodeo-Chediski burn will regenerate to Ponderosa pine on the scale of centuries, not decades.

But I regard the fire that marked the beginning of the large-scale burning of Arizona as the 28,000-acre Dude Fire, below the Mogollon Rim northeast of Payson, in June 1990.

A summary of the incident can be found here:


It has been largely forgotten that six firefighters died on June 25, 1990. The next day, down in Phoenix, an all-time high temperature of 126 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded. Air traffic halted at Sky Harbor — the manuals the pilots used to calculate lift did not cover what to do in 126-degree air. Phoenix's conditions were off their charts.

The Dude Fire was our harbinger. So was that 126-degree day.

When I was a kid my family camped a lot at the Forest Service site near Kohl’s Ranch and the confluence of Tonto and Horton Creeks. Nearby there had been a fire in 1956, the Roberts Mesa burn. One of the roads in the area skirted its perimeter, and the Forest Service had found the Roberts Mesa Fire so large and noteworthy that it erected explanatory signage along the road. I remember reading it ca. 1959.

Its size? 5000 acres.

A 5000-acre fire nowadays scarcely registers on the local news radar.

Fire historian Stephen J. Pyne is an acquaintance, and several years ago I had dinner with him. We talked about fire in Arizona, of course.

I told him about seeing the Roberts Mesa signage. He observed that as time has passed there has been a mathematical progression in terms of orders of magnitude: 5000 acres was a “monster” fire in the 1950s; then add a zero to get the Dude monster of 1990, then add another zero to get the six-digit monsters of our new century -- the Rodeo-Chediski Fire (469,000 acres or 732 square miles) and the Wallow Fire (538,000 acres or 841 square miles), with other six-digit fires in the Mazatzals, Catalinas, Chiricahuas, and elsewhere.

Perspective: Rodeo-Chediski and Wallow are each about 100 times the size of the Roberts Mesa Fire the Forest Service found so extraordinary in 1959.

The burn areas of Rodeo-Chediski and Wallow, taken together, are over half again as large as the European country of Luxembourg.

I lived in central Arizona during the 1980s and knew the country along the base of the Mogollon Rim — the Ponderosa pine forest along the Control Road from Pine to Tonto Village. The Dude Fire in that area just gutted me. I was upset for a long time.

Little did I know in 1990 that the burning had just begun.

And not just in the pine forests.

In Boy Scouts we were told that wildfire in the Sonoran Desert was an exceedingly rare occurrence because there was no understory to support it. And that was true for a time.

One year in the 1960s a few acres along the Beeline Highway, in the saguaro forest north of the turn-off to Saguaro Lake, had burned. Our scoutmaster pointed it out as we drove past as something highly unusual.

Now, we have buffelgrass, “the archenemy of the Sonoran Desert,” to serve the role of a fire-carrying understory:


And so, due to multiple fires, the coup de grâce being the Bush Fire of 2020, the spectacular saguaro forest than once ran from Fountain Hills (before there was a Fountain Hills) to the Mazatzal foothills — that made the drive along the Beeline Highway through the area so beautiful — has been obliterated. The stretch from the Saguaro Lake exit to the foothills is now a near-moonscape and it is heartbreaking.

It is regenerating as a weird, buffelgrass-dominated grassland but not as Sonoran Desert. This year we have already had a buffelgrass-fueled fire in the 2020 burn scar, the grass having been raised by our wet 2022-23 winter.

It should be noted that African buffelgrass was introduced to the Sonoran Desert with the best of intentions — good fodder for cattle, drought tolerance, erosion control. It has become the desert brother of the Japanese kudzu that plagues the American South, another plant introduced with the best of intentions (erosion control).

Humans have never been any damn good at foreseeing the consequences of their actions, other than recognizing their insufficiency with that adage about the road to hell.

Newcomers extol the scenic beauty of Arizona and, yes, there are pockets of it — relicts.

They have no idea of what was here before. For us who do, any trip through Arizona is not a scenic drive; it is an elegy.

Thanks. Good stuff.

Couple of observations, Joe. It has never been 126 in recorded history in PHX, the all time high was 122, and yes, it was in 1990 along with the Dude Fire. People misstate and throw outlandish temps all the time, I had folks assert it was "125" last summer and the like.

While bufflegrass has certainly become an issue, it was hardly the first invasive species that began carrying fire in the Sonoran desert ecosystem. That would be red brome, which was introduced for many of the same reasons as cited for bufflegrass. Bufflegrass is a relative newcomer to the northern part of the Sonoran desert, it has really flourished in the Tucson area, probably because of the higher rainfall in that area. https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/red-brome-carries-fire-and-burns-saguaros

Clearcutting ponderosa pine forests is a misguided practice, there is nothing natural about it. Ponderosa pine forests were naturally uneven aged and had microsites distributed across the landscape where reproduction could occur. These megafires you cite are essentially having the same effect as a clear cut and will perhaps never regenerate as a pine forest.

I was on a fire in California in 1973 that was about 50,000 acres. This was so remarkable that people talked about it for years and years. Rodeo-Chediski burned that much in a single afternoon, on more than one occasion.

And I share your thoughts about driving through elegy, I can scarcely stand to drive the Beeline anymore, all I see is what used to be...

Thanks for putting this up...

@ DoggieC -- Thanks. Don't know why I put 126 degrees. Maybe just read an article about the high in Death Valley? In any case, yes, 122 is correct. I was here and remember the day well.

I am aware of red brome and, without digging the factoid out, think it may have been a culprit in the fire that burned the McDowell Mountains several years back. I just googled "red brome wildfire" and the number of hits you get on USFS, USGS, and NPS sites indicates what a problem it has become. The headline on a USGS webpage is succinct: "Red Brome Carries Fire and Burns Saguaros." Photo of the stuff:


This one apparently came in as a contaminant in commercial seed sourced from Europe, which was the same way that tumbleweed (a.k.a. Russian thistle) arrived.

All those unintended consequences...

@DoggieC -- Aaagh -- posted the link to the same image you did. Obviously I need more coffee this morning!

Thanks for the observations...

I recently reread Mr. Talton's excellent piece about Encanto Park, from 2010. He made a reference to a 2008 monsoon storm that destroyed many of the parks oldest trees, saying it was caused by the urban heat island. Now, in 2023, I wonder if it was also one of the first harbingers of climate change for Phoenix.

How are the Aleppo pines doing in town? I heard the heat and a tree disease was harming them.

1200 Was a good year in Phoenix as was swimming in the Salt.

Where does that 126 number keep popping up from? Maybe a Baggage handler on the Tarmac at Sky Harbor?

Had to settle for my eggs overeasy today wasnt hot enough for scrambling.

Today i chatted with the Train engineer that operates the fun train ride at Goldfield Ghost Town located near the Superstitions.
He said it hasn't slowed down much this summer.
Today he had 200 tourists in one bunch that didnt speak English.

AzReb, I'll go downtown and check for you in the next couple of days. But first, may I ask you, what's an Aleppo pine?

Helen, its used to make sponge cake.

The nice third rain in the last three nites just moved on past my RV.
The toads are happy.

It's not just Aleppo pines, Rebel, almost every species of trees/shrubs is showing signs of stress throughout the metro area. I have plants that I've kept healthy in my yard for 25 years that are showing unprecedented levels of stress/burning/dieback. Never seen anything remotely like it...

Thank you Dogggie. The Aleppos have always been a favorite of mine alone with the gigantic cottonwoods which used to line all the canals in the Salt River valley. The cottonwoods being cut down were always step one of the big housing developments being put in their place.

Azrebel, per your Tribe,
Cottonwood tress have SOUL.

Phoenix's average temperature for July was 102.7 degrees, which bested the former record of 99.1 degrees in August 2020. It is astonishing to have a heat record broken by such a large margin in such a short period of time. The July 2023 Phoenix average also appears to be the highest ever for any city in the US, surpassing the July 1996 record of 102.2 degrees in Lake Havasu City. A number of other heat records were also broken, including most days in a row of 110 degrees or higher (31), most number of days of 115 or higher (17), longest streak of overnight lows of 90 or higher (16), and warmest overnight low on record (97).

Finally Arizona achieves recognition for something other than being Last.
How about making all undeveloped
land regardless of ownership, Roadless Wilderness.
AND a wall to keep out folks from other states including Canada.
Less is better than more.
Particularly ADOT assfault and concrete.

Looks like the blog is suffering from the dog days of summer, so I will post a random thought.

As an independent voter I am here to tell you now that under no circumstances will I vote for Joe Biden. Democrats FIND SOMEONE ELSE, or else.

With me and my aliases that amounts to six or seven votes.

I forwarded your post along to the Bufalinos and Hoffas.

I'm shaking in my boots. Every mafia dude who put Biden in congress in the first place is long, long gone. Meanwhile, my Chicago\Vegas\Salt Lake benefactors are all healthy, local and thriving.

You and your RV could go for a long ride off a short road near Tortilla Flat. Be sure to wear your floaties.

Back in the 50"s i used to dive off the top of the bridge near Tortilla Flat. Now days a place for silly tourists.

I take it all your benefactors are
Seri descendants?

It's fun to go back and re-read the Rogue columns and see who posted what.
If anyone else is doing the same, I can tell you where the 126 came from. I worked in America West Reservations on that day. That was the figure given when we had to explain to unhappy passengers that they couldn't go home because it was too hot. I believed them and never made a weather check to verify.
At that time I was driving a Nissan truck with a broken air conditioner and I didn't have the money to fix it. The window stayed down, a wet towel around my neck and a misting bottle helped me survive the trip from Tempe to my casa close to 24th St & Roosevelt.
Today my grandson drives this same truck with the air conditioner working.
And that's the story of the average old lady who used to be a working girl.
Mariam Cheshire (author of "Return to Sanctuary - Plague")

Note: Mariam is 96.

Even the saguaros are dropping arms in this heat.

Agree with you on the terrible sprawl, gravel, palo verde skeletons etc. Your solution of grass, shade trees, oleanders etc would be awesome.

Human caused climate change is still the silliest hoax ever though, the only purpose of which is to reduce our living standard and get the rowdy serfs back on the farm.

To wit, the biggest polluter is the US government, in particular the US military. Still waiting for all the environmentalists to call for shutting down the 200+ overseas military bases & bring the troops home.

Or replace the inflation-based fiat currency with its rational bias towards immediate consumption to a deflation-based one which encourages savings and to put off consumption.

But no, it's just no more pizza ovens and flights, and take the light rail with the homeless people muttering to themselves.

In mid June it was still in the 90s everyday, the coolest June I can remember.

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