Arizona officials closely watching the deaths attributable to scorching weather

Aug 4, 2023, 9:00 AM

The remains of a fallen saguaro cactus decays in the Sonoran Desert on Aug. 2, 2023, near Apache Ju...

The remains of a fallen saguaro cactus decays in the Sonoran Desert on Aug. 2, 2023, near Apache Junction, Arizona. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona officials are closely watching the deaths attributable to the scorching weather after Phoenix saw its hottest month in July.

Officials have put refrigerated body trailers on standby in the state’s two most populous counties in case morgues reach capacity. Officials for Maricopa and Pima counties say storage at the medical examiner offices are not full and trailers aren’t needed yet.

“This is our usual process over the last few summers,” said Dr. Greg Hess, medical examiner for Pima County, home to Tucson.

Maricopa County, the state’s most populous and home to Phoenix, reported this week that 39 heat-associated deaths have been confirmed this year as of July 29. Another 312 deaths are under investigation.

At the same time last year, there were 42 confirmed heat-related deaths in Maricopa County, with another 282 under investigation.

Maricopa County reported 425 heat-associated deaths in all of 2022, with more than half of them in July.

Pima County lists 59 heat-related deaths for this year through July 27, but not how many more deaths remain under investigation. There are no comparable figures from Pima County from last year because the tracking was expanded this year to include deaths in which heat was a contributing factor, something Maricopa County has done for several years.

Officials caution against reading too much into preliminary death reports, noting that the totals can change dramatically during the course of investigations that often include toxicology tests that can take months.

The National Weather Service said this week that July was the hottest month in Phoenix on record, with an average temperature of 102.7 F (39.28 C). This beats the previous record of 99.1 F (37.28 C) set back in August 2020.

People who are homeless and those who work outside are among those at the greatest risk of dying from the heat.

Phoenix and its suburbs sweltered more and longer than most cities during the recent heat spell, with several records including 31 consecutive days over 110 F (43.33 C). That streak ended Monday. The previous record was 18 straight days, set in 1974.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

114° | 91°
92° and partly sunny

Arizona News

An artist's rendering of Toll at Cavasson — a 136-unit townhome development in north Scottsdale b...

Ron Davis/Phoenix Business Journal

Toll Brothers files plans for new luxury townhomes at Scottsdale mixed-use campus

Toll Brothers Inc. has submitted an application to the city of Scottsdale to bring luxury townhomes within the Cavasson development.

19 minutes ago

Scottsdale Quarter water fountain...

Payne Moses

15-year celebration: Scottsdale Quarter undergoing major facelift, adding several tenants

Scottsdale Quarter is ringing in its 15th anniversary with major property redevelopment and the addition of several tenants, the shopping center announced Thursday.

1 hour ago

Burning building...

Arizona man guilty of arson and hate crimes for burning two churches in May 2023

A 58-year-old man was declared guilty of all six arson and hate crimes for the burning of two Douglas churches on May 22, 2023, authorities said Thursday.

11 hours ago

A 19-year-old died and another man was hospitalized after a shooting at an apartment complex in Ahw...

Suspect sought in Ahwatukee shooting that killed 19-year-old, injured another

One man died and another was hospitalized after a shooting in Ahwatukee early Friday morning, the Phoenix Police Department said.

11 hours ago

This image, made from a video provided by Arizona's Family, shows damage caused by the Watch Fire o...

Associated Press

California reports 1st wildfire death of the 2024 season as fires persist across the West

Wildfires fueled by strong winds and an extended heat wave have led to the first death in California of the 2024 season.

12 hours ago

Marana Police vehicle...

Arizona father arrested, charged in hot car death of 2-year-old daughter at own residence

A 2-year-old girl was pronounced dead Tuesday after she was left in a car at a Marana residence, officials said in a Friday press release.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Arizona officials closely watching the deaths attributable to scorching weather