PHOENIX — The onslaught of searing temperatures and rising floodwaters struck parts of the United States again on Wednesday with Phoenix breaking an all-time temperature record and rescue crews pulling people from deluged homes and vehicles in Kentucky.
Forecasters said there was little relief in sight from the days of extreme weather for some areas of the country.
Miami has endured a heat index of at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or more for weeks, with temperatures expected to rise even higher this weekend. In Kentucky, meteorologists warned of a “life-threatening situation” in two communities, Mayfield and Wingo, where more rain was expected after waves of thunderstorms brought on flash floods.
More storms threatened the Blue Grass state as the National Weather Service also issued flash flood watches and warnings in nearby states. Forecasts expect as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain could fall in the area where Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri meet at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
The weather system is then forecast to move Thursday and Friday over New England, where the ground remains saturated after recent floods. In Connecticut, a mother and her 5-year-old daughter died after being swept down a swollen river on Tuesday.
In southeastern Pennsylvania, a search continued for two children swept away by flash flooding Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Phoenix broke an all-time record Wednesday morning for a warm low temperature at 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 degrees Celsius), according to the weather service. The previous record was 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.6 degrees Celsius) in 2003.
The desert city of more than 1.6 million people had set a different record Tuesday among U.S. cities by marking 19 straight days of temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius) or more.
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.
On Tuesday, Phoenix had reached 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius) by 3 p.m. Many residents were confined indoors, turning the usually vibrant metropolis into a ghost town.
Across the country, Miami marked its 16th straight day of heat indexes in excess of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 degrees Celsius). The previous record was five days in June 2019.
“And it’s only looking to increase as we head into the later part of the week and the weekend,” said Cameron Pine, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
The region has also seen 38 consecutive days with a heat index threshold of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
“This weekend we’re expecting upper 90s for high temperatures,” Pine said. “And in addition to that we have very warm sea surface temperatures that are five to seven degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal … there really is no immediate relief in sight.”
Human-caused climate change and a newly formed El Nino are combining to shatter heat records worldwide, scientists say.
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.
Atmospheric scientists say the global warming responsible for unrelenting heat in the Southwest also is making this kind of extreme rainfall a more frequent reality, because clouds hold more moisture as the temperature rises, resulting in more destructive storms.
In Connecticut, state fire officials said a mother and young daughter were swimming in the Shetucket River in Sprague when they were swept away by currents running high because of New England’s recent heavy rains. They were found unconscious downstream and taken to a hospital. The mother, a woman in her 30s, died Tuesday. State police said the daughter died Wednesday.
And in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, searchers are still trying to find two young siblings who were visiting from South Carolina and swept away in what one fire chief called “a wall of water” that hit their family and killed their mother Saturday. Four other people also died in those flash floods.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Wednesday to help rain-swollen communities, including Mayfield.
Emergency officials described the flash flooding as a catastrophic threat in Kentucky’s Graves County, where Mayfield is the county seat. With major flooding already occurring and more rain on the way, Sheriff Jon Hayden urged drivers Wednesday to stay off the roads.
“Many roads have been washed out, many cars have driven into water and drowned out,” Hayden posted on social media.
Crews have had to rescue people from homes, but there haven’t been any reports of injuries or deaths, said Trooper Sarah Burgess, a spokesperson for Kentucky State Police Post 1 covering 11 western Kentucky counties.