Captain Rick: The record freeze that has gripped Arizona’s Valley of the Sun for the past 5 days is giving way to warmer temps. It was the longest cold blast to hit the greater Phoenix area since 1978.
Having lived in the Valley since 1996, I can say with out a doubt, it was the longest, coldest streak I have witnessed here. The digital weather station at my Gilbert Oasis measured early morning lows of 27.9, 26.1, 26.2, 27.9, 30.2 (F) during the past 5 days. I have only witnessed one day colder…25.2 registered on January 15, 2007, part of a 2-day cold snap. This 5-day frigid blast far surpassed it. This was the first year my fountain froze solid. My pool water dropped to a record low of 39F, smashing the old record of 43F. I ran the pool pump all night for 5 days straight to keep the above ground plumbing from freezing, beating the old record of 2 days. I also insulated my water supply line. Unlike houses in cold climates, water supply lines in the Valley enter the house above ground, subjecting it to the rare event of freezing.
A desert freeze can be beautiful, but also very destructive to its plants. During my daily walk today, I was amazed at the extensive damage to the tender desert plants and trees. The fichus trees, lantana, bougainvillea, honeysuckle, bird of paradise, aloe, hibiscus and several other tender plants were severely damaged. It is the worst plant destruction I have witnessed here. I suspect I will have to prune many of my plants back to nearly nothing. I will probably loose some. Even the hardy oleanders got frost bitten badly, killing all of the flowers and buds that were in bloom. I suspect that the normal explosion of floral color and beauty in the Valley will be a bit delayed and diminished this spring.
On the bright side…temps closer to normal begin returning to the Valley of the Sun tomorrow.