This story was originally published by The Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Extreme heat contributed to as many as 450 deaths in the Phoenix area this summer, in what could be the deadliest year on record for the desert city in Arizona.
The medical examiner for Maricopa county, which includes Phoenix, has so far confirmed 284 heat-related deaths, while investigations into 169 more suspected heat fatalities are ongoing. The highest number of deaths – and emergency hospital visits – coincided with the hottest days and nights.
The temperature hit 110 degrees F or higher on 22 days this year, yet it was only the 20th hottest summer on record, according to the National Weather Service. It did not drop below 80 degrees Fahrenheit on 75 percent of nights between June and August. Heat effects are cumulative and the body cannot begin to recover until the temperature drops below 80 degrees F.
Overall, the suspected heat death toll is 36 percent higher than for the same period last year, despite a good rainy season which helped keep temperatures – and heat deaths – down from la... Read more