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Sweltering heat leaves 70 million people in the US under heat alerts, as record-setting temperatures move through the South

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By Caitlin Kaiser and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN

(CNN) — As the planet’s hottest month on record comes to a close, 70 million people are under heat alerts in the US, where areas in the southern plains and Southeast could see record-setting highs of 115 degrees or more.

While the Northeast and mid-Atlantic will get some relief Sunday, heat advisories and excessive heat warnings are widespread across more than 10 states, from Texas to Florida, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service warned heat indexes, which factor in humidity, could soar above 105 to 115 degrees across the southern Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeast.

“Record hot highs and warm minimum temperatures are widely possible in these regions next week,” the prediction center added.

The Southwest gets some reprieve from the record-setting heat as high temperatures, though still extremely hot, return to more normal values for this time of year.

Phoenix topped 110 degrees for the 30th day in a row on Saturday, hitting a high of 115 degrees. It is a record-setting 17 days of 115 degree-plus temperatures for Phoenix this year, surpassing the previous record of 14 days set in 2020, according to the weather service. The streak will likely end Monday, when temperatures are expected to fall below the 110-degree mark after rain showers move through the area.

Even some cactuses couldn’t take the heat in Phoenix, where the plants were seen collapsing and dehydrated animals were rushed to a rehabilitation center.

The recent heat wave proved deadly in some areas.

A 53-year-old woman in Illinois died Thursday in her apartment, where she didn’t have air conditioning because her power had been disconnected, according to the Peoria County coroner’s office. In Texas, a 66-year-old woman died early Tuesday from the extreme heat after being taken to a hospital from her apartment in North Richland Hills, police said.

Heat-related hospitalizations are also up. In Arizona, doctors are seeing an increase of patients with burns just from falling on the hot ground.

Scientists said July will be the planet’s hottest month on record and human-induced climate change is the main factor leading to the high temperatures.

To prevent heat-related illness, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises finding cool, indoor areas to stay, drinking plenty of fluids and regularly checking on vulnerable people, like young children and the elderly.

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CNN’s Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN-Weather/Environment

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