Prolonged Heat Wave Pushes Phoenix To Brink

Aug 1, 2023

How Does the Heat Index Mean?

In Phoenix, it's so hot that people are getting rushed to emergency rooms with severe burns simply from falling on the ground. Scorching heat is killing people, animals, and plant life. That includes even the hardiest of desert cactuses. Cars and AC units are breaking down everywhere.

The immense heat is causing the area’s people to call the land known as the “Valley of the Sun” a hell on Earth. Scientists insist it's driven by climate change. Phoenix, Arizona’s capital, ended July having reached 32 straight days of temperatures at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (F). That shattered the old record of 18-straight-days at or above 110 F in 1974.

“Phoenix has always been hot,” the city’s heat response manager told The Guardian. “But this is something else.”

The scorching heat is swamping hospitals with high numbers of cases of heat stroke. They're also seeing many cases of severe burns from contact with sidewalks and asphalt. Temperatures on asphalt can run up to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. That means some of these surfaces have reached 180 degrees F.  An egg can fry at that temp.

As of July 21, the heat had killed 25 people. That's according to local authoritiesPublic health officials are investigating 249 other fatalities for possible links to the heat. Health experts believe the elderly and homeless are among the most at risk. 

The founder of an outreach group for those without homes, told The New York Times, “I can’t tell you how many people called me crying." He said they ask for a hotel room, saying, "I can’t make it through another day like this.”

Reflect: What are some ways we can help protect plant life or animals during extremely hot weather?

Based on the information in the infographic, people are most likely to experience heat stroke when temperatures reach _______. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit
b. 90-103 degrees Fahrenheit
c. 104-124 degrees Fahrenheit
d. 125 degrees Fahrenheit or more
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