AP (NEW)

Arizona’s sweltering summer could set new record for most heat-associated deaths in big metro

Sep 22, 2023, 4:08 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — America’s hottest metro area is on track to set an annual record for heat-associated deaths after a sweltering summer, particularly in Phoenix.

Public health officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and Arizona’s most populous county, said Friday that 289 heat associated deaths were confirmed as of Sept. 16, with another 262 deaths under investigation.

By this time last year, there were 80 fewer deaths confirmed to be heat-associated and 46 fewer deaths that were still under investigation.

Forensic pathologists say that it can often take weeks and even months of investigation that can include toxicological tests to determine whether heat was a contributing factor in someone’s death. For example, at the end of 2022 the county had confirmed 378 heat-associated deaths, but later, as investigations played out, that number grew to 425.

This summer, Phoenix experienced the hottest three months since record-keeping began in 1895, including the hottest July and the second-hottest August. The daily average temperature of 97 F (36.1 C) in June, July and August passed the previous record of 96.7 F (35.9 C) set three years ago.

Temperatures have been gradually dropping in recent weeks, with the highs mostly staying under 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.3 Celsius).

National Weather Service forecasters in Phoenix said on Friday they expected a a high of 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 Celsius). A slight, gradual warming trend was forecast for the weekend.

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Arizona’s sweltering summer could set new record for most heat-associated deaths in big metro