Days and days and days of heat, from the people who lived it

There are hot summers. And then there’s the summer of 2023.

For huge portions of the United States, the past few months have been brutally hot — often for weeks on end. Heat records were set across the country, and much of the southern tier spent this summer in the grips of a particularly unrelenting stretch of heat and humidity.

Seven states in the South and the West, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington, had one of their hottest summers in more than 70 years, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Centers for Environmental Information. Of those states, Louisiana had its hottest summer in seven decades.

Heat waves are expected to become more frequent and more intense as the planet warms. Studies have also shown that extreme heat events are lasting longer as a result of climate change.

The planet notched its hottest summer on record “by a large margin,” according to data released last week by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. In June, July and August — the months that make up “meteorological summer” — Earth’s average surface air temperature was about 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the long-term average.

In the U.S., a slew of heat records have been toppled this summer. Phoenix set a record with 31 straight days at or above 110 F, obliterating the previous record of 18 days. More than 50 counties in Texas, mostly in the southern portion of the state, experienced their hottest summer in more than a century of record-keeping.

But what was it really like to live in such oppressively hot conditions? NBC News talked to people in Arizona and Texas, two of the states that were hit the hardest by extreme heat this summer, about how soaring temperatures affected their day-to-day lives. Here’s what they said.

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