The Phoenix heat wave returns this weekend
The record-setting summer weather won’t stop.
And after the hottest month of July on record, the Phoenicians looked forward to the respite of August, which never came. Typically, August averages 23 days with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher, and two days with temperatures of 110 degrees or higher, according to the Arizona State Climate Bureau. This August, high temperatures in Phoenix reached 110 degrees at least 17 times. The high has only fallen below 100 twice this month – on August 19 and 21.
Thanks to stormy weather that knocked out power for tens of thousands of Valley residents on Aug. 31, Phoenix enjoyed a cooler Labor Day weekend. But the welcome weather change won’t last. In fact, the heat is expected to pick up again later this week.
“We’re looking for warmer temperatures through the week,” Mark O’Malley of the National Weather Service told the Arizona Republic. “Today (Tuesday) is going to be the coldest day with temperatures only around 100 degrees around the Phoenix area. However, we will see temperatures warming up, possibly close to 100 degrees, and there is a chance of record highs this weekend.”
By Saturday, the high is expected to reach 113 and trigger another extreme heat warning.
Heat-related deaths continue to rise
Unusually high temperatures continue to take a deadly toll on the people of Maricopa County.
There have been 180 confirmed heat-related deaths this year, according to the Maricopa County Public Health Department’s most recent heat surveillance report. With an additional 330 deaths under investigation, the number of heat-related deaths is likely to be even higher.
By comparison, MCDPH reported a total of 111 confirmed heat-related deaths over the same time period in 2022.
Of the heat-related deaths that occurred in 2023, 44% were among the homeless population. But according to David Hondola, director of the Phoenix Office of Heat Response and Mitigation, the report’s numbers don’t tell the whole story.
“When you read the reports, the unsheltered population can account for anywhere from a third to 40% of heat-related deaths depending on the specific year. Of course, the unsheltered community is not 30% to 40% of the county’s population. The proteges) make up one-fifth of the 1% of the county’s population.”So, there is a disproportionately high risk for them,” Hondola told the Phoenix New Times.
Now, in its second year, Hondola’s administration is working to identify and standardize various efforts to mitigate the city’s heat effects.
“It wasn’t until last year that we had all our heat response plans and programs in one document,” Hondola noted.
As time passes before the next heat wave hits the city, Hondola said his team is adopting a three-pronged approach to keeping Phoenix’s most vulnerable residents safe.
First, the Office of Human Resources Management distributes cooling supplies, such as cold water caps and towels. Secondly, the office shares information on its website about available cooling plants as well as assistance solutions A person suffering from a heat-related illness. Third, Hondola said his team is working to establish connections to continue care for unprotected Phoenix residents.
“We certainly see this as a big win for society’s resistance to heat,” Hondola said.
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