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"Climate breakdown" has begun as Phoenix breaks another heat record

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), on Saturday, September 9, the temperatures in Phoenix, Arizona set a new heat record, continuing to rise as the city broke its previous record of the most days at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius). 

New heat record

This was the 54th day this year that the temperatures in Phoenix surpassed 110F – one day more than the heat record of 53 days set in 2020. Moreover, the daily average temperature of 97F (36.1C) in June, July, and August surpassed the previous record of 96.7 (35.9) set three years ago.

As the weekend highs were expected to range between 108F and 114F (with night temperatures between 80F and 88F), NWS issued an excessive heat warning until 8pm on Sunday. 

Historic heat wave

Today, the temperature is expected to be slightly lower (106F). This historic heat wave from this year’s summer stretched from Texas to New Mexico and Arizona and deep into California’s desert.

According to experts from NWS, such temperatures significantly increase the risk of heat stress and illnesses for both humans and animals, making it crucial for residents to stay hydrated, avoid sun exposure from 10am to 6pm, wear light and loose-fitting clothing, use air conditioning, and make sure to keep their pets safe.

On Wednesday, officials from Maricopa county (which is home to Phoenix) reported that there have been 194 confirmed heat-related deaths this year, occurring mostly among people between 50 and 64 years of age. Moreover, 59 percent of these deaths have been among white non-Hispanics, making it the most number of deaths by race and ethnicity.

According to World Meteorological Organization, last month was the hottest Augustt ever recorded worldwide, and the second hottest month ever measured, after July 2023. 

Anthropogenic climate change 

The scientists blame anthropogenic climate change correlated to the advent of El Nino (a temporary warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean impacting weather all over the globe). However, since this natural phenomenon is expected to peak at the beginning of next year, 2024 will most likely break all the heat records set this year.

“The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting,” warned United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Climate breakdown has begun.”

Heat and human health

Heat can have various effects on human health, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions

Heat exhaustion

This occurs after exposure to high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity. Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and headache. Without intervention, it can progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke

A severe and potentially life-threatening condition. The body loses its ability to regulate temperature, causing the body temperature to rise to dangerous levels. Symptoms include hot, dry skin, rapid heartbeat, confusion, and unconsciousness. Immediate medical attention is necessary.


Heat can increase the rate at which the body loses fluid through sweating, leading to dehydration. This can result in dry mouth, fatigue, dark yellow urine, and dizziness.

Heat cramps

Muscle pains or spasms that can occur during heavy exercise in a hot environment, usually due to loss of salt and water from sweating.

Heat rash

Skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It appears as a cluster of red pimples or small blisters.

Chronic illnesses

Heat can exacerbate conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and respiratory illness.

Effects on vulnerable populations

Elderly individuals, children, and those with chronic illnesses are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Mental health impacts

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can lead to mental health challenges, including increased stress, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Medication effects

Some medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or inhibit perspiration, making individuals more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

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