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Monday, February 6, 2023

Extreme heat, flooding hits desert tourism

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, has experienced temperatures surpassing 110 degrees every day this week.

Extreme temperatures out west are hitting some tourist towns hard.

Fewer people want to see the sights when it’s 100 degrees and humid.

The London Bridge Ice Cream Parlor in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, hoped for more tourist traffic after the pandemic slowed down, but triple-digit heat combined with a busy monsoon season has been putting a damper on tourism.

"Lake Havasu City is so dependent on tourism and a lot of folks come to enjoy Lake Havasu City through watercraft and boating," said Cal Sheehy, mayor and vice president of London Bridge Resort. "It's a completely different world out on the lake."

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A map showing Lake Havasu City along the Colorado River

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is located along the Colorado River. (Fox News/Ashley Soriano / Fox News)

The city, known for its famous London Bridge, is situated along the Colorado River and surrounded by desert.

The local economy relies on tourism, with an annual 835,000 visitors on average, compared to its permanent population of about 55,000.

The mayor said tourism is going strong given the pandemic aftermath and inflation, but one ice cream shop said the heat and frequent monsoons have been hurting business.

"We are dealing with 100 plus degrees, sometimes some days even 110, with humidity reaching as high as 70%," said Mariah Dunning, London Bridge Ice Cream Parlor manager. "So it's staying between 50% and 70%, which is causing a lot of people not to travel."

The London Bridge Ice Cream Parlor, which faces the lake, has been family-owned for 30 years.

The owners say the high temperatures are melting their product faster.

Lake Havasu City boating is popular among tourists

People come to Lake Havasu City for its boating and other water activities. (Fox Business/Ashley Soriano)

"We actually have to put cases over the ice cream at the end of the day because they do start to melt towards the end of the day from just the bounce off of the water," Dunning said. "We have to close our doors, and if we had the doors open, you wouldn't be able to really stand in here."

The ice cream shop said they’re hopeful for a busy winter tourist season when it’s not as hot but still warm enough for northerners, and with Labor Day around the corner, business is sure to pick up.

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Extreme heat has hit places all over the country, even where they’re not used to it like Seattle.

The same is happening with recent flooding like in Dallas and Las Vegas, which see little rainfall each year.

The extreme weather is paired with historic drought.

The Colorado River supplies more than 40 million people in Arizona, Nevada, California and parts of Mexico with drinking water.

Lake Havasu is part of Parker Dam, which was formed along the river.

Lake Havasu City is known for London Bridge

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is known for its London Bridge, seen in the background of this picture. (Fox Business/Ashley Soriano)

Mayor Sheehy said right now, the drought isn’t impacting tourism much or the city’s water supply. 

But the state of Arizona and Nevada face major cuts to their water supply as the Colorado River’s water level continues to decrease.

The federal government announced it would reduce Arizona’s water delivery by 592,000 acre-feet in 2023, which is 21% of its usual amount.

Nevada will lose 25,000 acre-feet and Mexico 104,000 acre-feet.

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The government and even businesses are encouraging water conservation more now than ever.

Lake Havasu’s mayor runs the London Bridge Resort.

He says they’ve adjusted their laundry and irrigation technologies to conserve water.

Ice cream parlor faces bridge water channel

The London Bridge Ice Cream Parlor’s storefront faces the Bridge Water Channel in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. (Fox Business/Ashley Soriano)

Many hotels have signs in each room urging guests to do their part.

What’s new for one married couple visiting Lake Havasu City this week is seeing these signs in privately-owned condo rentals.

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"I don't know that I've seen personal notes from condo owners before," said Trese Williams, visiting from Illinois.

"The last time we were in Arizona was 2017 and I don't remember seeing nearly as much of it talked about," William’s husband Corey said. "From where we're from, we don't have a lack of rain or water, so it's hard for us to grasp that."

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