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Phoenix scorches at 110 for 19th straight day, breaking big US city records in global heat wave

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Phoenix scorches at 110 for 19th straight day, breaking big US city records in global heat wave

PHOENIX (AP) — A dangerous 19th straight day of scorching heat in Phoenix set a record for U.S. cities Tuesday, confined many residents to air-conditioned safety and turned the usually vibrant metropolis into a ghost town.

The city’s record streak of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius) or more stood out even amid sweltering temperatures across the globe. It reached 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius) by 3 p.m.

Human-caused climate change and a newly formed El Nino are combining to shatter heat records worldwide, scientists say.

No other major city – defined as the 25 most populous in the United States – has had any stretch of 110-degree (43.3-degree) days or 90-degree (32.2-degree) nights longer than Phoenix, said weather historian Christopher Burt of the Weather Company.

“When you have several million people subjected to that sort of thermal abuse, there are impacts,” said NOAA Climate Analysis Group Director Russell Vose, who chairs a committee on national records.

For Phoenix, it’s not only the brutal daytime highs that are deadly. The lack of a nighttime cooldown can rob people without access to air conditioning of the break their bodies need to function properly.

With Tuesday’s low of 94 F (34.4 C), the city has had nine straight days of temperatures that didn’t go below 90 F (32.2 C) at night, breaking another record there, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Salerno, who called it “pretty miserable when you don’t have any recovery overnight.”

On Monday, the city also set a record for the hottest overnight low temperature: 95 F (35 C). During the day, the heat built up so early that the city hit the 110 mark a couple minutes before noon.

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Dog parks emptied out by the mid-morning and evening concerts and other outdoor events were cancelled to protect performers and attendees. The city’s Desert Botanical Garden, a vast outdoor collection of cactus and other desert plants, over the weekend began shutting down at 2 p.m. before the hottest part of the day.

In the hours before the new record was set, rivers of sweat streamed down the sunburned face of Lori Miccichi, 38, as she pushed a shopping cart filled with her belongings through downtown Phoenix, looking for a place to get out of the heat.

“I’ve been out here a long time and homeless for about three years,” said Miccichi. “When it’s like this, you just have to get into the shade. This last week has been the hottest I ever remember.”

Some 200 cooling and hydration centers have been set up across the metro area, but most shut down between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. due to staffing and funding issues.

The entire globe has simmered to record heat both in June and July. Nearly every day of this month, the global average temperature has been warmer than the unofficial hottest day recorded before 2023, according to University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer. U.S. weather stations have broken more than 860 heat records in the past seven days, according to NOAA.

Rome reached an all-time high of 109 (42.9 degrees Celsius), with record heat reported throughout Italy, France, Spain and parts of China. Catalonia smashed records reaching 113 (45 Celsius), according to global weather record keeper Maximiliano Herrera.

And if that’s not enough, smoke from wildfires, floods and droughts have caused problems globally.

In addition to Phoenix, Vose and others found less populous places such as Death Valley and Needles, California; and Casa Grande, Arizona, with longer hot streaks, but none in locations where many people live. Death Valley has had an 84-day streak of 110-degree temperatures.

The last time Phoenix didn’t reach 110 F (43.3 C) was June 29, when it hit 108 (42.2 C). The record of 18 days above 110 that was tied Monday was first set in 1974.

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“This will likely be one of the most notable periods in our health record in terms of deaths and illness,” said David Hondula, chief heat officer for the city. “Our goal is for that not to be the case.”

Phoenix City Parks and Recreation workers Joseph Garcia, 48, and Roy Galindo, 28, tried to stay cool as they trimmed shrubs. They work from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to avoid the hottest time of the day.

“It gets super hot out here and sometimes we have to take care of the public,” said Galindo, adding he sometimes find people passed out on the grass. “A lot of these people aren’t drinking water.”

Retired Phoenix firefighter Mark Bracy, who has lived in the city most of his 68 years, went on a two-hour morning climb Tuesday, up and down Piestewa Peak, which is 2,610 feet (796 meters) high.

“I’ve been going up there regularly since I was in the Cub Scouts, but it was never this hot back then,” said Bracy. “We’ve had hot spells before, but never anything like this.”

Dr. Erik Mattison, director of the emergency department at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center in metro Phoenix, recalled a hiker in his 60s who was brought in last week with a core body temperature of 110 degrees (43.3 C).

“Heat makes people sick. Heat makes people die,” Mattison said.

“And it’s not just older people,” he added. “We’ve seen professional athletes fall ill in the heat during training camp.”

Phoenix’s heat wave has both long and short-term causes, said Arizona State University’s Randy Cerveny, who coordinates weather record verification for the World Meteorological Organization.

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Long-term high temperatures over recent decades are due to human activity, he said, while the short-term cause is high pressure over the western United States.

That high pressure, also known as a heat dome, has been around the Southwest cooking it for weeks. When it moved, it moved to be even more centered on Phoenix, said National Weather Service meteorologist Isaac Smith.

The Southwest high pressure not only brings the heat, it prevents cooling rain and clouds from bringing relief, Smith said. Normally, the Southwest’s monsoon season kicks in around June 15 with rain and clouds. But Phoenix has not had measurable rain since mid-March.

“This heat wave is intense and unrelenting,” said Katharine Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona. “Unfortunately, it is a harbinger of things to come.”

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Follow AP’s climate and environment coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

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Borenstein reported from Washington. Follow Seth Borenstein and Anita Snow on Twitter at @borenbears and @asnowreports

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Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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