Ongoing heatwave breaks records, ghosts

Ongoing heatwave breaks records, ghosts

From the normally cool Russian Arctic to the traditionally oppressive American South, much of the Northern Hemisphere continued to sizzle with extreme heat as the start of summer more closely resembled the dog days of August.

A heat dome oscillating from west to east across the United States, with temperatures in many places in the triple digits combined with high humidity. On Thursday, at least eight states hit 100 degrees (37.8 degrees Celsius) and at least nine high-temperature markers were set or exceeded, according to the National Weather Service, which was keeping 30 million Americans under a kind of heat warning.

Thursday’s extreme unease came after 12 states broke the 100-degree mark on Wednesday and 21 records were tied or broken. Since June 15, at least 113 automated weather stations have set or broken heat records. Scientists say this early baking has all the hallmarks of climate change.

“It’s easy to look at these numbers and forget the immense misery they represent. People who can’t afford air conditioning and people who work outdoors have only one option to suffer,” said Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler, who was at College Station where the temperature was 102 degrees (38 .9 degrees Celsius) set a record. Thursday. “Those of us with air conditioning may not suffer physically, but we are prisoners of the interior.”

After three deaths, Chicago has changed its refrigeration rules.

Macon, Georgia, the temperature rose from 64 degrees (17.8 degrees Celsius) to 105 (40.6 degrees Celsius) in just nine hours on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, the temperature reached 104 (40 degrees Celsius), a record for the day. Even Minneapolis hit 100 on Monday.

Only the Pacific Northwest and Northeast are likely to have been spared the heatwave, said National Weather Service forecaster Marc Chenard of the Weather Prediction Center. On Thursday, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Arizona and California all hit at least 100. The same states hit 100 on Wednesday, followed by North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“It’s persistent,” Chenard said. “It’s been over a week and it will continue in some aspects.”

It’s not just the US

The Russian city of Norilsk, above the Arctic Circle, hit its hottest June day on Thursday, with 89.6 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) on record, and the hottest day in any month on record, according to Maximiliano Herrera, who follows global temperature records. Several Japanese cities hit their hottest June temperatures, including 97 (36.1 degrees Celsius) in Nobeoka City, while Turpan, China hit 114 degrees (46.5 degrees Celsius). Herrera said it was so crazy that he didn’t have time to eat or sleep, just chasing broken records and extreme heat.

A European heatwave has also caused problems with fires in Germany and Spain.

Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University, said what’s happening with this early heat wave “aligns very well with what we would expect in a continuously warming world.”

“These temperatures are occurring at just 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) of global warming, and we’re on track for another 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 degrees Celsius) of warming this century,” Dessler said . “I literally can’t imagine how bad this is going to be.”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, it hit 100 degrees on Wednesday and the city normally only gets 100 degrees once a day a year, but it comes much later, state climatologist Kathie Dello said.

“In the US Southeast, many do not have access to adequate or stable cooling, or cannot afford to use their home cooling systems. Heat morbidity and mortality are among our greatest public health risks in a changing climate.”

Some locations, including the north-central part of the country, could see some cooling by the weekend or Monday, Chenard said. But above-average temperatures are forecast for “at least the first half of July” and he added it’s likely that the whole summer will be hotter than normal.

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears

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