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This month likely to be hottest August on record in Phoenix as highs still soar past 110
PHOENIX (AP) ' Few would describe summer in Phoenix as pleasant, but this month is turning out to be particularly miserable as it teeters on the brink of becoming the hottest August in recorded history.
The heat has been especially relentless this week as Phoenix broke records for daytime highs on Monday and Tuesday, which reached 114 degrees. That's 10 degrees hotter than the average high for this time of year, and more record-breakers could come Wednesday and Thursday.
The average between the daytime highs and nighttime lows in the area for August was at 97.1 degrees as of Wednesday, putting Phoenix on pace to beat the overall monthly record of 96.2 degrees, set in 2007.
"It would be difficult not to break it at this point," Chris Kuhlman, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Wednesday. "So far we're a degree above the hottest one."
Kuhlman said the earliest the area is expected to "cool down" is next week, when daytime highs will be around 105 degrees.
The excessive heat is being caused by a relatively inactive monsoon and a large upper-level pressure system hovering over the area, Kuhlman said.
Tucson, in southern Arizona, also broke a record set in 1985 on Tuesday, when it reached 107 degrees. And Yuma, in far southwestern Arizona, also hit an all-time high for the day Tuesday when it hit 115 degrees.
An excessive heat warning was in effect through Friday afternoon in one-fourth of Arizona and parts of southern California and Nevada, including Las Vegas.
The extra hot weather has led to an increased number of calls from members of the public experiencing heat-related illness, said Jorge Enriquez, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department.
The department has gotten 703 heat-related incidents so far this year, compared with about 527 for all of last year, a 33 percent increase, he said. In the last two days alone, there have been 30 heat-related incidents, Enriquez said.
On Wednesday morning, crews responded to Phoenix's South Mountain and had to carry a 44-year-old hiker down who called 911 after she got dizzy and nauseated, classic signs of heat stroke, he said. And on Sunday, a helicopter rescued a 59-year-old woman from another mountain after she experienced similar symptoms, Enriquez said.
Both women are experienced hikers, he said.
"They're underestimating the heat," Enriquez said. "If they're avid hikers and they're still trying to go for their morning hike ' it's 95 degrees at 8 o'clock in the morning now, and normally in August it's usually 85 or 80."
He also said firefighters have been responding to homeless people being found dead in the streets because of the heat, although he did not immediately know how many have died this summer. One of Arizona's worst summers for such deaths was in 2005, when temperatures hit at least 110 degrees on 24 days, and 80 people died.
The heat also leads to increased deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the border. A Border Patrol spokesman did not immediately have a breakdown of how many heat-related deaths among immigrants have been recorded this summer.
Extreme temperatures also can lead to an increase in scorpion stings, as the desert critters crawl indoors.
The Banner Poison and Drug Center in Phoenix reported Tuesday that its phones were "ringing off the hook."
More than 70 people called within one 24-hour period ending Wednesday seeking medical advice after being stung by scorpions, the center reported.
Scorpion stings can cause nausea, vomiting, slurred speech and blurred vision, and are most dangerous for children. Deaths are rare.
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