A Phoenix-bound flight was forced to return to Houston this evening because of weather conditions in the Valley of the Sun.
Passengers who were on the plane said the flight crew told them the record-breaking heat is to blame. United flight 6186 -- operated by Mesa Airlines -- departed from Bush Intercontinental Airport at 2:30pm and was minutes away from landing at Sky Harbor Airport when the flight crew notified passengers it would be turning back around because of the weather.
Phoenix broke a hot-weather record set nearly 50 years ago on this date, hitting 117 degrees amid a heat wave boiling parts of the Southwest.
It is illegal for planes to land or take off once the temperature hits 120 degrees because of the effects the heat have on airplane equipment.
The company issued only the following statement regarding the incident:
"United Express flight 6181 operated by Mesa Airlines, returned to Houston due to weather in Phoenix.
Phoenix passengers will be accommodated on an extra flight that has been added for tomorrow morning."
The National Weather Service says the high temperature surpassed the record for June 19 just before 1 p.m. Plus, meteorologist Mark O'Malley says there are still a few more hours to go before the temperature reaches its peak.
Forecasters say some areas could see a high of up to 120.
The previous record was 115 back in 1968.
A strengthening ridge of high pressure lifting out of Mexico is on course to scorch portions of Arizona and southeast California on Sunday and Monday.
Fire officials said a 28-year-old started biking with two friends and stopped breathing a few hours later.
Crews said her condition appeared to have been heat-related.
The woman, an avid hiker and personal trainer who had no known medical issues, was flown to hospital where she died.
The National Weather Service said temperatures hit 118F, breaking a record of 115F for June 19, set nearly 50 years ago Portions of Arizona and south-east California are expected to keep getting scorched with a high pressure ridge lifting out of Mexico.
The weather service forecast temperatures will drop to 113F on Tuesday and stay below 115F for the rest of the week. Phoenix did not reach 120F as forecasters said was possible, but Yuma, in the south-west corner of Arizona, did.
National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Deemer said he had "no doubt there are places in the Valley that hit 120F or so".
The woman's death came a day after a 25-year-old Phoenix man died of heat exposure while hiking in neighbouring Pinal County.
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