June 23, 2024 / Modified jun 23, 2024 9:42 a.m.

At least 6 heat-related deaths reported in metro Phoenix so far this year as high hits 115 degrees

A heat wave baked most of the United States on Friday, with numerous areas expected to see record-breaking temperatures.

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

By Anita Snow, Associated Press

At least six people have died from heat-related causes this year so far in sizzling metro Phoenix, where the temperatures this week hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius), the Maricopa County Department of Public Health reported this week.

Another 87 deaths are under investigation for possible heat-related causes through last Saturday, public health officials said in the most recent weekly update to its online heat surveillance information.

Phoenix hit 115 degrees F (46 C) on Thursday and Friday, making them the hottest days of 2024 up to now. The metro area continued to swelter through an excessive heat warning under a dome of high pressure, with some moisture and a slight cooling possible over the weekend.

A heat wave baked most of the United States on Friday, with numerous areas expected to see record-breaking temperatures.

“We might see a little rain over the next few days because there is a 30% chance for Phoenix," said meteorologist Ryan Worley of the National Weather Service. ”There could be a slight cool down to around 110 degrees, but temperatures should go back up next week."

Situated in the Sonoran desert, Maricopa County saw a stunning 645 heat-related deaths last year, about 50% more than the 425 confirmed for 2022.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs declared a state of emergency in 2023 after metro Phoenix experienced a 31-day streak of temperatures reaching at least 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees C).

Maricopa County, the hottest big metro area in the U.S., is among the few jurisdictions that provide regularly updated data on heat-related deaths that can be easily accessed by the public.

The Office of the Medical Examiner in Pima County, home to Arizona's second most populous city of Tucson, this year added a dashboard to track heat deaths there. So far this year, there have been at least five heat-related deaths in Pima County, plus three more in the rural counties that contract with Pima for forensic services.

Last year in Pima County there were 176 heat-related deaths and another 51 such deaths in the five additional rural counties that the medical examiner handles.

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