Heat-related deaths continue to rise even as the calendar turns to October

Sep 29, 2023, 6:00 PM

Patrons are warned about the heat at the Desert Botanical Garden entrance, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023,...

Patrons are warned about the heat at the Desert Botanical Garden entrance, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX (AP) — Confirmed heat-associated deaths in Arizona’s most populous county continue rising even as the weather turns cooler in the hottest metropolitan area in the U.S. This weekend’s forecast calls for high temperatures in the double digits.

Maricopa County public health data released this week shows that as of Sept. 23, there were 295 heat-associated deaths confirmed, with a similar number — 298 — still under investigation for causes connected to the heat.

The rising numbers are keeping Maricopa on track to set an annual record for heat-associated deaths after a blistering summer, particularly in Phoenix. No other major metropolitan area in the United States has reported such high heat death figures or spends so much time tracking and studying them.

By this time last year, 40 fewer heat-associated deaths were confirmed and 109 fewer deaths were still under investigation.

Scientists predict the numbers will only continue to climb as climate change makes heat waves more frequent, intense and enduring,

Even as the full human cost of the sweltering summer becomes more evident, the weather in Phoenix is growing milder as fall begins.

The National Weather Service said the high temperature in Phoenix was expected to top 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday. That high was forecast to slide to 99 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday and into the high 80s on Sunday and Monday

It can take months of investigation, including toxicological tests, to determine whether heat was a contributing factor in someone’s death. At the end of 2022, the county had confirmed 378 heat-associated deaths, but later, as investigations played out, that number grew to 425, the highest total ever recorded.

About three-quarters of Maricopa County’s confirmed heat deaths so far this year were outside, including at bus stops and in parks. About 44% of those who died were people experiencing homelessness in a county where an estimated 10,000 don’t have permanent housing. More than a third of those who died were 65 or older.

There have been 74 indoor heat deaths in the county confirmed so far, including 63 in homes where the air conditioning was not working or turned off.

Phoenix this summer 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 in June, July and August passed the previous record of 96.7 F set three years ago.

Phoenix in July also set a record with a 31-day streak of highs at or above 110 F, creating a health hazard for people whose bodies were unable to cool off sufficiently amid such persistent, relenting heat.

We want to hear from you.

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

112° | 82°
102° and partly cloudy

Arizona News

arizona water conservation...

Nick Borgia

Arizona to invest $8.5 million for water conservation project

Arizona senators announced that $8.5 million will be invested in Arizona to continue a feasibility study related to water conservation.

50 minutes ago

guns and drugs...

Nick Borgia

22-year-old Tucson man indicted for trafficking firearms and drugs

A Tucson man was indicted by a federal grand jury for having possession of multiple illegal firearms, weapon attachments and cocaine.

5 hours ago

The medical center at 655 S. Dobson Rd. in Chandler is just south of Chandler Regional Medical Cent...

Medical center office building in Chandler sells for $7.3 million

A 22,500-square-foot multi-tenant medical and dental office building in Chandler has been sold for $7.3 million.

9 hours ago

Bright Angel Point...

Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Point Trail to close starting June 21

A popular trail at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will become temporarily unavailable to visitors starting next week.

11 hours ago

Ryan So Scottsdale PD died Thursday night...

Police disclose more details regarding death of Scottsdale detective

Law enforcement authorities on Friday night disclosed more information about the death of Scottsdale Police detective Ryan So on Thursday.

13 hours ago

Close-up stock photo of an elderly woman's hands crossed in her lap. The number of metro Phoenix el...

Kevin Stone

Officials sound alarm about growing problem of elder abuse in metro Phoenix

Elder abuse is growing at an alarming rate in metro Phoenix, with the number cases rising by nearly 20% last year.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


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.

Heat-related deaths continue to rise even as the calendar turns to October