The intense heat plaguing much of the United States is putting strain on the national power grid. Record temperatures in China and Europe. Extreme weather has ravaged India, where torrential rains have triggered deadly landslides this week.
And there is little relief in sight.
On Thursday, a day after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last month was the hottest June on the planet since global temperature records began in 1850, its meteorologists said August was unlikely to bring any respite. , at least in the United States. The agency forecasts unusually high temperatures across most of the country next month, almost everywhere except the northern Great Plains.
On Thursday, the California power grid operator issued a emergency alert urging people to save electricity, as high temperatures put a strain on the system. In Phoenix, the temperature hit 116 degrees on Thursday, extending the city’s record streak to 21 consecutive days with temperatures of 110 degrees or higher.
The first two weeks of July were probably the hottest on Earth on record for any time of year, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Some scientists have suggested that last month’s heat wave was made five times as likely and 5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it would have been without climate change. Although heatwaves occur naturally, the peak in June temperatures around the world is very unlikely to have occurred without global warming, said John Nielsen-Gammon, director of the Southern Regional Climate Center.
In Asia, extremely high temperatures have accompanied an intense monsoon season that has already claimed more than 100 lives India, South Korea and Japan, with the total death toll likely to be significantly higher.
In India, intense heat has been replaced by heavy rains across much of the country, particularly in the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The heavy downpours have caused massive landslides and flash floods, killing at least 130 people over the past 26 days in northern India.
An April report from the Indian government foreshadowed such a problematic climate, warning that « as global warming runs rampant, the likelihood of compound extremes such as droughts and heat waves occurring simultaneously is also likely to increase. » Droughts can make flash floods more likely because the soil becomes less absorbent.
Heatwaves in India usually occur before the monsoon season, from March to June. But this year, temperatures have remained extremely high for much longer, reflecting a steady warming trend in recent years. While a temperature of 91 degrees or higher was recorded, on average, 70 days a year between 1961 and 1990, between 1991 and 2022 there were an average of 89 days that reached that limit.
Much of China also continued to cook on Friday as its heatwave shattered records across the country.
The far western region of Xinjiang has been particularly hard hit. Temperatures in a remote desert town on Sunday reached 126 degrees, reportedly breaking the previous record for the hottest temperature in China. Parts of Xinjiang were expected to continue to see temperatures above 100 degrees, according to official media. Even the authorities said yes alert for potential fires in northern Xinjiang.
Late July is historically the hottest time of the year in southern China, and officials there warned that high humidity would make temperatures feel nearly 20 degrees warmer than actual measurements.
China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake, entered its dry season on Thursday, the first start to the season since records began in the 1950s. according to the authorities in Jiangxi Province. They cited continued heat, as well as a lack of rainfall, as the reason for the alarming water levels.
In northern China, several cities, including Beijing, broke records for most days in a year above 95 degrees, though thunderstorms that kicked off Thursday night were expected to finally bring some relief.
But the storms have brought their own concerns, as officials have warned of potential flash flooding around the capital. Two years ago, on July 20, 2021, central China’s Zhengzhou city experienced what state media said was the most rainfall ever recorded in a single hour in the country, as downpours killed at least 300 people .
In the United States, forecasters said the current heat wave is expected to last through the weekend in the Deep South and Southeast and into next week for the Southwest. Nearly 80 million Americans are expected to experience temperatures above 105 in the coming days, the National Weather Service said.
More than a quarter of the US population experienced dangerous heat on Thursday, according to a New York Times analysis of daily weather and population data.
Severe storms, particularly in the southeastern United States, have added to the toll the heat has taken on energy supplies. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power as severe storms knocked out power lines; 150,000 homes were without power in Georgia, and in western Tennessee, 52,000 homes and businesses experienced blackouts Thursday.
In Europe, scorching temperatures have taken a particular toll on older people, with southern European nations joining others as far away as Belgium in putting in place heating plans, many aimed at safeguarding older populations.
Extreme heat can be dangerous to anyone’s body, but older people and outdoor workers are particularly at risk. Summer heatwaves in Europe last year may have killed 61,000 people across the continent, according to a recent study.
This year’s heat and humidity have been particularly devastating in northern Mexico, where more than 100 people have died of heat-related causes after a « heat dome » parked over the region, according to ministry reports. health federal.
Heat domes are weather phenomena that form naturally from time to time. Some meteorologists and climate scientists believe that the warming Arctic is causing the jet stream to slow down, meaning those weather systems stay in one place longer.
Mr. Nielsen-Gammon of the Southern Regional Climate Center said it was too early to know whether this happened in the case of the heat dome over Mexico and the southern US.
The report was provided by Suhasini Raj in New Delhi e Viviana Wang in Beijing. Li You contributed research from Shanghai.