A man overlooks downtown Phoenix at sunset atop South Mountain, Sunday, July 30, 2023.
One of the most exceptional heat streaks in U.S. history finally ended Monday as Phoenix’s high temperature peaked below 110 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time in a month, a cumulative toll that has catapulted the city to the top of record books. But the heat is far from over for Phoenix and millions of others in the central United States.
Tuesday’s high temperature was 108 degrees in Phoenix, or 2 degrees above average. The 31 consecutive days at 110 degrees or above beat the previous record by 18 days.
It wasn’t just high temperatures that broke records: The city also set a new record warm low temperature of 97 degrees during the streak. With temperatures warming to extreme highs and barely cooling overnight, July averaged a record 102.7 degrees for the month, the warmest month on record for any American citylet alone Phoenix, according to the office of the Arizona State Climatologist.
“It’s been a year of anomalies and streaks, so it’s just a testament to how strange this year has been,” said Ryan Worley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Phoenix.
July 2023 will go down in the history books for many places across the southern United States.
More than two dozen cities from California to Florida could end up setting records for the hottest July. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Kingman, Arizona, Miami and Las Vegas have already taken the top spot for the hottest July on record.
These are just numbers that have proven to be a very real danger to humans and animals.
At least 25 people have died of heat so far in 2023 in Maricopa County, home of Phoenix, with 249 other deaths still being investigated for a possible heat connection, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
July is typically the deadliest time of year for heat-related deaths, but this year has been “worse than previous years,” Maricopa County spokesman Jason Berry previously told CNN affiliate KTVK/KPHO. Fears of an increase in heat-related deaths prompted the Maricopa County medical examiner to bring in 10 cooling containers last week to deal with a possible overflow of bodies.
25-year-old farm worker Dario Mendoza was one of the Arizonans who died of suspected heat-related causes in July. He collapsed in an area of Yuma, Arizona, on July 20 as temperatures rose as high as 116 degrees, Yuma County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tania Pavlak told CNN. Mendoza is one of a legion of outdoor workers who have had little option but to brave the heat and its extreme risk to human health.
More people have died in national parks this year from the heat, police dogs even died of heat-related illness in Indiana after a climate failure, authorities said. Even cacti are succumb to the Arizona heat.
Areas shaded in red show where temperatures above 90 degrees are expected on Friday.
The end of July did not bring an end to the relentless heat. August will start as July ended with oppressive heat across much of the central United States.
Heat alerts are in effect for more than 50 million people from the Southern Plains to the Lower Mississippi River Valley, where it “feels like” temperatures will reach 110 degrees or more.
North Texas, including the Dallas Metroplex, could get as high as 111 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday.
Heat indices may rise as high as 115 degrees for New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Even Phoenix will be back in the extreme heat on Wednesday, then high pressure dome it is responsible for creating these massive heat waves that shift west again.
Temperatures above 110 degrees will arrive in Phoenix again on Wednesday. Temperatures on Sunday could reach 116 degrees, so the city will again be under a heat alert starting Friday and lasting through the weekend.