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2017 the third hottest year on record in Flagstaff

Last year was the third warmest on record in Flagstaff and the final three-month stretch of 2017 was the driest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The city saw just 0.01 inches of precipitation from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, compared to the 5.39 inches that is normal for that time period. Just three other years since 1899 have logged more than 90 days with 0.01 inches of precipitation or less.

Nine record high temperatures were tied or broken throughout the year, which is the most in the past 10 years, though the top number of record high temperatures in a year was 18 days in 1977.  

The city also saw 10 days with temperatures that hit 90 degrees or higher. Seven of them came in one blistering streak in June that sent residents scrambling to buy fans and air conditioners.

Even so, the top temperature of the year — 93 degrees on June 23 — didn’t come close to Flagstaff’s all-time record high of 97 degrees set in 1973.  

Two record low temperatures were also tied or broken in 2017.

Last year’s average annual temperature was 48.7 degrees, making it the fourth consecutive year above the normal of 46.3 degrees. Seven out of the last 10 years have been above that number, which is calculated by adding the average high and low temperatures of the year and dividing by two.

Thanks to healthy snow and rainfall earlier in the year, including a 36-inch snowstorm in January, Flagstaff finished the year with 18 inches of precipitation. That’s nearly 4 inches below normal though.

The 76.2 inches of snow that fell over the area is also short of normal by nearly 25 inches.

Looking to the next three months, the long-term precipitation outlook calls for a continuation of below-average precipitation across Arizona.

With a 10 percent chance of rain on Saturday that is the only precipitation in the forecast, this winter will soon creep up to the third latest first snowfall on record. The latest ever is Jan. 15 in 2006.

Other cities in the state also broke weather records in 2017.

It was the warmest year ever for both Phoenix and Tucson. There were 14 days when Phoenix broke or tied record high temperatures while Tucson had the most daily record temperatures set or tied in a year since 1989, according to the Associated Press. On June 20, Phoenix saw its fourth highest temperature ever recorded when the mercury hit 119 degrees. Tucson heated up to 116 degrees that same day, which is the city’s second highest temperature on record.  

Justin Casterline, NAU Sports Information 

Northern Arizona's Luis Grijalva runs at the NCAA Championship meet in Louisville.

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Coconino Sheriff's Office: Heating system failure possible cause of death for El Mirage family

A significant failure in the heating system of the Parks cabin where an El Mirage family was found dead on Monday was consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a heating and cooling contractor employed by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.

Ponderosa Fire units located the four deceased individuals at 1:43 p.m. on Monday after a sheriff’s deputy conducted a welfare check after a friend of the family was unable to reach them for several days.

They are identified as Anthony and Meaghan Capitano, both 32, Lincoln Capitano, 4, and Kingsley Capitano, 3, all of El Mirage.

El Mirage is located about 25 miles northwest of Phoenix.

The heating system was the only gas appliance in the home and provided additional evidence that carbon monoxide gas had filled the cabin, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident as a possible carbon monoxide poisoning; however, the cause of death has yet to be determined by the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

The sheriff’s office would like to recommend that people install not only smoke detectors, but also carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

These need to be tested and inspected at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

The heating/cooling industry generally recommends that heaters are inspected yearly.

If you have questions regarding your heating/cooling system, you are urged to contact a certified heating/cooling expert to check your system. If you use wood stoves, be sure these also are annually serviced and cleaned.