July 8, 2024

Pima County heat-related deaths in June topped 2023's totals

Days with high temperatures also saw a notable increase from the previous year.

Heat Center Saguaro cactus amid mid-afternoon sun.
Nick O'Gara/AZPM

Heat played a part in the deaths of at least 16 people in Pima County last month, according to county medical examiner's office data. That is an increase from 2023, when June saw 13 such deaths.

Of the 16, 12 were declared 'heat-caused,' meaning exposure to high temperatures was listed as a direct cause on the person's death certificate. The other four deaths were declared 'heat-contributed,' meaning heat exposure listed as a contributing factor.

Nine of the people who died of heat-related causes last month were classified as undocumented border crossers, while another three were people who were experiencing homelessness.

National Weather Service data show the Tucson area experienced 14 days in June with a daily high temperature exceeding 105 F, twice as many as in June 2023. And the average daily high was 104.1 F, almost four degrees warmer than the previous year.

In 2023, heat-related deaths spiked dramatically from June to July, going from 13 to 91.

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