PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix, already the hottest large city in America, is poised to set yet another heat record this weekend while confirmed heat-associated deaths are on track for a record of their own.
The National Weather Service says after a brief respite from the heat over the Labor Day holiday, the city is expected to break its previous record of 53 days of 110-degree Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius) weather in a single year, set in 2020. Afternoon weekend highs will range between 108 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2-45 Celsius) across Arizona's lower deserts.
“Remember to stay hydrated and avoid sun exposure from 10am to 6pm this weekend!” the weather service advised on social media.
Phoenix has now seen 52 days of temperatures at or above 110 degrees in 2023 and is expected to hit that mark again on both Saturday and Sunday, when an extreme heat watch will be in effect, local meteorologists said. The temperature could also hit 110 degrees on Monday.
The high on Wednesday was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 Celsius).
The desert city set a record in July with a 31-day streak of highs at or above 110 degrees. The previous record was 18 straight days, set in 1974.
It was part of a historic heat wave this summer that stretched from Texas across New Mexico and Arizona and into California’s desert.
Phoenix has now seen 100 days with 100-degree Fahrenheit-plus (37.7 Celsius) temperatures this year as of Wednesday. That's in line so far with the average of 111 days hitting triple digits every year between 1991 and 2020.
Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and the most populous county in Arizona, also appears headed toward an annual record for heat-associated deaths.
The suspected heat victims have included a hiker who collapsed in the blazing sun on a city trail, and a 9-year-old migrant boy who died in Mesa, Arizona after falling ill while crossing the Arizona-Mexico border with his family.
County public health officials said Wednesday there have been 194 heat-associated deaths confirmed for this year as of Sept. 2. Another 351 are under investigation.
There were 153 heat-associated deaths in the county confirmed by the same week last year, with another 238 deaths under investigation.
Maricopa County has confirmed 425 heat-related deaths in 2022.
“Given the number of confirmed heat-associated deaths and the number that are currently under investigation, it’s possible we could have even more heat-associated deaths this year than in 2022,” said Sonia Singh, supervisor for Maricopa County Public Health Department's office of communications. “These heat deaths are preventable, however, and with the temperatures we are still seeing, it’s important that people don’t let their guard down.
"Continue to take precautions like staying hydrated, do outdoor work or exercise in the cooler parts of the day, and stay in air-conditioned spaces during the hottest parts of the day,” Singh added.
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs in mid-August declared a state of emergency following more than a month of extreme heat statewide.
Hobbs said then that the declaration would allow the state to reimburse various government entities for funds spent on providing relief from high temperatures.