America’s hottest metropolitan area is on pace to set an annual record for heat-related deaths after a sweltering summer, especially in Phoenix.
Public health officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and Arizona’s most populous county, said Friday that 289 heat-related deaths had been confirmed as of Sept. 16, with another 262 deaths under investigation. of an investigation.
This time last year, there were 80 fewer deaths confirmed to be heat-related and 46 fewer deaths still under investigation.
Medical examiners say it can often take weeks or even months of investigation that can include toxicology testing to determine whether heat contributed to a person’s death. For example, at the end of 2022, the county had confirmed 378 heat-related deaths, but later as investigations continued, that number increased to 425.
About three-quarters of confirmed heat deaths in Maricopa County so far this year have occurred outdoors, including at bus stops, as well as in yards, driveways, parking lots and parks . About 44% of those who died were homeless people in a county where about 10,000 people lack permanent housing.
So far, 74 deaths from indoor heat have been confirmed, including 63 in homes where the air conditioning was not working or was turned off.
This summer, Phoenix experienced the three hottest months since record keeping began in 1895, including the hottest July and the second warmest August. The average daily temperature of 97 F (36.1 C) in June, July and August surpassed the previous record of 96.7 F (35.9 C) set three years ago.
In July, Phoenix set a record with a 31-day streak of high temperatures at or above 110 F (43.3 C). The previous record of 18 consecutive days was set in 1974.
During the scorching summer of 2023, a historic heat wave stretched from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona to the California desert.
Temperatures in Phoenix have been gradually dropping in recent weeks, with highs mostly staying below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.3 Celsius).
Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Phoenix said Friday they expected a high of 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 Celsius). A slight gradual warming trend was forecast for the weekend.