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Geography and Climate of Phoenix

The heart of the City of Phoenix, and what many would say might be at the very heart of the state, is called Phoenix Arizona Home Central Phoenix.  Phoenix is surrounded by a ring of mountains, and therefore finds itself located in a valley.  As this valley, blessed by almost year-round constant sunshine, is called The Valley of the Sun, so is Phoenix, the jewel that sits at the center of this valley, often referred to as The Valley of the Sun.

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The exact location of Phoenix, in latitude and longitude, is 33 degrees 31’42” north and 112 degrees 4’35” west. This puts it at about the same latitude that would be on an east-west line going from west to east through Long Beach, CA, Shreveport, LA, and Savanna, GA.  Phoenix sits in the center of Phoenix Valley, also frequently referred to as the “Valley of the Sun”. 

It is easy to imagine the in-state location of Phoenix by just thinking of a place right in the middle of the state of Arizona. The elevation of Phoenix is 1,117 feet above sea level and it is in the heart of the beautiful Sonora Desert.

A major feature of Phoenix is the Salt River.  The Salt River is important in the history and development of the city, and of the state.  But the Salt River is also an important part of the landscape.  The Salt River flows westward through the city of Phoenix; the riverbed is normally dry except when excess runoff forces the release of water from the dams upriver.

The city of Tempe has built two inflatable dams in the Salt River bed to create a year-round recreational lake. The Tempe Town Lake is surrounded by lavish living accommodations and a number of recreation and nightspots to meet the plan of creating a luxurious resort location.

But aside from this man-made lake the city and surrounding places are mostly made up of land.  The city officially has an area of 475.1 square miles. You can see how important water is to the area when you consider that of all this space only 0.05 percent of it is made up of water.

The majestic mountain ranges that enclose, ring and protect the city include Camelback Mountain to the east, Piestewa Peak (Formerly known as Squaw Peak and renamed to commemorate a brave Native American member of our military who fell in the line of duty with U.S. Armed Forces fighting for freedom in Iraq) in the northeast, and South Mountain, appropriately enough, in the south.  Completing the enclosure and a bit further away, are the White Tank Mountains. 

These mountains, rising spectacularly above the mostly level desert plains, form a breathtaking background for this jewel of a city amidst the desert.

But the Phoenix area itself is not simply a flat plain with no character to its terrain.  Within the city are the Phoenix Mountains and South Mountains.  These mountains not only add to the scenic beauty of the valley, they are also ideal locations to participate in local recreation.

Phoenix has a very dry and hot climate, with little change during the year. Clear blue skies are typical on most days, and Phoenix boasts nearly 300 sunny days per year on average. The temperature reaches or exceeds 100 degrees on about 89 days during the year. 

The hottest times are the days from early June through early September. To get an idea of how hot it can get there record temperature was set on June 26, 1990, when it reached an all-time high of 122 degrees!  (The lowest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix was 16 degrees on January 7, 1913.)

The dry Arizona air makes the hot temperatures easier to withstand early in the season.  But the resident must be aware of the August monsoon season.  At this time Phoenix can get nearly as humid as it gets in the Southeastern United States.

The normal annual rainfall is 8.29 inches and rain is particularly scarce from April through June. Although thunderstorms occur on occasion during every month of the year, they are most common during the monsoon season from July to mid-September.

Snow is extremely rare in the area.  Most of the snowfall occurs north at the higher elevations around Flagstaff with snowfall in Phoenix noted.  When it snows in Phoenix it goes in the record books!

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