Phoenix, a city known mainly for being a monument to man’s arrogance, is having a heatwave. Temperatures yesterday reached a scorching 110 degrees and it doesn’t look like the heat — “at least it’s a dry heat,” the locals will say — is calming down anytime soon. Temperatures today will reach 120 Fahrenheit and they’ll only drop five or six degrees as the week wears on. Needless to say, it’s probably pretty miserable there right now. But people can’t get out, even if they want to.
No, the city hasn’t installed some Walking Dead type barricade to keep the citizens in (yet), but the sun’s rays have baked this particular desert oasis so hard that planes can’t take off due to the heat. USA Today reports that customers were warned on Saturday that any flights on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday would need to be changed. 20 flights have been canceled already and it’s not clear whether more cancellations are on the way.
From USA Today:
Extreme heat affects a plane’s ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed.
Not all planes are affected by the heat. Large aircraft, according to The Verge, can travel when the heat is up to 127 degrees. But smaller crafts, like the regional routes American Airlines operates, can’t take to the sky if the temps hit higher than 118. It’s just as well, too. Can you imagine being in a plane in this heat, just chilling on the tarmac for hours, inside a broiling aluminum can? There’s no amount of free nuts that could make that better. And since alcohol is dehydrating, they couldn’t even offer you a free mini-bottle of tequila to take away some of the sun’s cruel sting.
This isn’t the first time that Phoenix has had to ground its planes — the city reached 122 degrees in 1990 — and with the way things are going, don’t expect it to be the last.