Tens Of Millions Sizzle In India’s Severe Heatwave

A commuter covers her face with a scarf to protect from the blazing sun as she travels on a hot summer afternoon in Amritsar on July 2, 2021. NARINDER NANU / AFP

 

Tens of millions of people in India were suffering Friday under a severe heatwave that has pushed the temperature to a nine-year high in Delhi as monsoon rains run behind schedule.

Heatwaves have killed over 6,500 people in the world’s second-most populous nation since 2010, and scientists say climate change is making them harsher and more frequent.

Daytime temperatures were above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for the fourth consecutive day Friday across the states of Rajasthan, Haryana and New Delhi.

Large parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in central India were also wilting.

New Delhi saw 43.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest July day in the city since 2012 when the capital sweltered under 43.5 degrees Celsius.

On Friday, the temperature again shot up to 41 degrees Celsius in the city of 20 million.

Temperatures have remained more than seven degrees Celsius above normal for this time of the year, prompting India’s weather office to classify it as “severe extreme heat”.

India Meteorological Department said the mercury will stay above 40 degrees for the coming week because of the late arrival of the southwest monsoon and a hot wind known as the Loo blowing in from the desert state of Rajasthan and Pakistan.

The weather department has issued a heatwave alert for the region, with forecasters also saying some isolated places will witness thunderstorms.

The intense heat has driven up power consumption as more and more people turned to air-conditioners and air coolers.

Delhi’s power consumption peaked to nearly 7,000 megawatts (MW) this week, 10 to 15 percent higher than the average demand at this time of the year.

In Punjab in the north, authorities announced a two-day weekly closure of industrial units and reduced office hours for its employees after electricity demand topped 15,000 megawatts due.

Forecasters predict that the annual rains will not hit New Delhi before July 7, making it the most delayed monsoon in the national capital since 2006.

AC Boom

The deadliest year for India was 2015 when over 2,000 were killed by intense heat.

Currently, just five percent of Indian households have air conditioning compared to 90 percent in the United States and 60 percent in China.

But the market is forecast to boom in the coming years, driving up energy consumption in what is already the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

The refrigerants inside AC units also exacerbate global warming, while the heat that the machines generate make cities even hotter.

The country of 1.3 billion people also suffers from severe water shortages with tens of millions lacking running water.

Parts of Delhi and elsewhere regularly see scuffles when tankers arrive to deliver water. In 2019 Chennai made international headlines when the southern city ran out of water entirely.

Canada, Northwest US Suffer Record Heat Forcing Schools To Close

 Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave this weekend. Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP
Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave this weekend. Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP

 

Swathes of the United States and Canada endured record-setting heat on Sunday, forcing schools and Covid-19 testing centers to close and the suspension of an Olympic athletics qualifying event, with forecasters warning of worse to come.

The village of Lytton in British Columbia broke the record for Canada’s all-time high, with a temperature of 46.6 degrees Celsius (116 Fahrenheit), said Environment Canada.

And in Eugene, Oregon, a temperature of 43.3 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) forced organisers to postpone the final day of the US Olympic track and field trials, moving afternoon events to the evening.

Because of climate change, record-setting temperatures are becoming more frequent. Globally, the decade to 2019 was the hottest recorded, and the five hottest years have all occurred within the last five years.

On Sunday in Seattle, Washington state, the temperature hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), a record that surprised residents not used to warmer climes.

“Normally it’s probably like, maybe 60, 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) is a great day, everybody is outside in shorts and T-shirts, but this is like — this is ridiculous,” one city resident told AFP. “I feel like I’m in the desert or something.”

Another said: “You just stand around and you’re like — you can’t breathe, it’s so hot.”

Doug Farr, manager of the city’s weekly Ballard Farmers Market, said the site had to close early Sunday because of the heat — something it normally only has to do for snow.

“I think this is the first time we’ve ever closed early because of the heat,” he said.

Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, hit 44.4 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit) Sunday, the US National Weather Service (NWS) said, breaking the city’s record set a day earlier.

Across the border in Canada, stores reportedly sold out of portable air conditioners and fans, while cities opened emergency cooling centers and outreach workers handed out bottles of water and hats.

Several Covid-19 vaccination clinics were canceled and schools announced they would close on Monday.

‘Extreme and prolonged heat’

More than 40 new highs were recorded throughout British Columbia over the weekend, including in the ski resort town of Whistler.

And forecasters said hotter days were to come.

“A prolonged, dangerous and historic heat wave will persist through this week,” Environment Canada said, forecasting temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius in several regions.

Kids play in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP

 

It issued alerts for British Columbia, Alberta, and parts of Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The NWS issued a similar warning.

The heat has been blamed on a high-pressure ridge trapping warm air in the region. The NWS previously said it would “likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest.”

Nick Bond, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington, said the freak weather event was not entirely due to climate change, but was exacerbated by it.

“Climate change is a factor here, but definitely a secondary one,” he said.

“The main thing going on is this highly unusual weather pattern, but that being said climate change is real, our temperatures have warmed here, especially summer night-time temperatures and so that has just kind of raised the baseline and made this heat event that much more severe.”

 

AFP

Two Die In Spanish Heatwave As France Braces For 45 Degrees

People refresh themselves on a fountain at La Concha beach in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian on June 26, 2019 at the start of a heatwave tipped to break records across Europe. PHOTO: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

 

Temperatures in France are expected to hit a record high on Friday, as Europe swelters in a heatwave blamed for several deaths, including a 17-year-old farm worker in Spain.

The Spanish teenager felt dizzy while helping harvest wheat in the southern Andalusia region.

After a dip in a swimming pool to cool off, he collapsed with convulsions and was rushed to hospital in the town of Cordoba where he later died, the regional government said.

Elsewhere in Spain, a 93-year-old man collapsed and died on the street in the northern city of Valladolid, police said, who gave heatstroke as the cause of death.

Heat-related deaths have also been reported in Italy, France and Germany, mainly among the elderly.

France was bracing for what could be the hottest day in its history on Friday — an extraordinary event for June.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 45 degrees Celsius in the south, beating the current record of 44.1 degrees dating to the catastrophic heatwave of August 2003.

That year, nearly 15,000 people are estimated to have died because of the heat, many of them elderly people at home.

The episode has caused every governments since to be extremely vigilant during heatwaves.

In Montpellier, 81-year-old Suzette Allegre was up early to do her shopping.

By 8:00 am, “the sun is already burning hot and you can smell the pollution,” she told AFP, saying she was rushing home to barricade herself indoors.

The area surrounding Montpellier and the nearby city of Nimes — where the 2003 record was set — was placed on the highest alert level Friday, as were Marseille and Avignon.

Most school outings were called off in the four areas and all sports classes cancelled.

– Fire hydrants uncapped –

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn warned those tempted to plunge into cold water, both young and old, to do so only in designated public bathing areas, adding that four people had drowned since the beginning of the week.

On Thursday, Buzyn complained that despite a barrage of public health warnings on radio, TV and on public transport, some parents were still leaving their children in hot cars and joggers seen exercising in the midday heat.

Also Thursday, a six-year-old Syrian child was seriously injured after being catapulted into the air by water gushing from an open fire hydrant and then crashing to the ground.

The incident occurred in the multi-ethnic Saint-Denis neighbourhood north of Paris, where “uncapping” hydrants has long been used as a way to cool off.

In the Italian city of Milan, a 72-year-old homeless man was found dead at the main train station on Thursday after falling ill due to the heatwave.

And a day earlier, at least four people died in Germany in bathing accidents.

– Flaming manure –

In Spain, firefighters were continuing to battle a large forest fire in the northeastern Catalonia region.

Catalonia’s forest service said the fire likely began when an “improperly managed” pile of manure at a chicken farm spontaneously combusted in the extreme heat.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by troops and aerial water bombers were trying to bring it under control.

They were hampered by roasting 44-degree temperatures and very low humidity according to David Borrell, head of the Catalan fire department.

Spain’s north-east was on red heatwave alert denoting “extreme risk”.

The stifling temperatures have caused air quality to nosedive in some European cities, prompting local authorities to take anti-pollution measures.

In Paris, Lyon and Marseille, authorities have banned the most-polluting cars from the roads in recent days.

Residents of the city of Grenoble were unable to use two municipal swimming pools despite the record temperatures, due to a row sparked by use of the full-body Islamic burkini swimsuit.

Lifeguards had asked for the shutdown after Muslim women clad in burkinis had gone to swim in defiance of a municipal ban on the outfits.

Spain Heatwave Death Toll Rises To Nine

Beach-goers cool off and sunbathe on the beach of the seaside resort of Benidorm, on August 5, 2018 Europe sweltered through an intense heatwave today, with soaring temperatures contributing to forest fires, nuclear plants closing and even threatening the Netherlands’ supply of fries, although some countries experienced a slight respite. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Spain’s death toll from a particularly virulent heatwave rose to nine in just one week, authorities said Tuesday, as the country suffers sky-high temperatures.

A 66-year-old man who died on Thursday in the southwestern region of Extremadura near Portugal was found to have died of heat stroke, a spokesman for the regional health department told AFP.

A 75-year-old woman who died two days later also succumbed to heat stroke, he added.

This brings to nine the number of people to have died as a direct consequence of the heatwave.

A 40-year-old German man who was on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage also died from heat stroke in Extremadura, as did an 81-year-old man.

Parts of the region registered temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) at the weekend.

Over in the northeast in Catalonia, three homeless men have died.

Two other men — a road worker in his 40s and a 78-year-old pensioner tending to his vegetable garden — also passed away from heatstroke last week.

AFP

Japanese Heatwave Kills 65 In One Week

A man wipes perspiration from his face in Tokyo on July 24, 2018, as Japan suffers from a heatwave. An “unprecedented” heatwave in Japan has killed at least 65 people in one week, government officials said on July 24, with the weather agency now classifying the record-breaking weather as a “natural disaster.” Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

An “unprecedented” heatwave in Japan has killed at least 65 people in one week, government officials said Tuesday, with the weather agency now classifying the record-breaking weather as a “natural disaster.”

In the week to Sunday at least 65 people died of heat stroke while 22,647 people were hospitalised, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said in a statement.

Both figures are “the worst-ever for any week during summer” since the agency began recording fatalities resulting from heat stroke in July 2008, an agency spokesman told AFP.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday that a total of 80 people have died from the heat since the beginning of July, and over 35,000 have been hospitalised.

Among those killed was a six-year-old schoolboy who lost consciousness on his way back from a field trip.

“As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday.

The government said it would supply funds to ensure all schools are equipped with air conditioners by next summer.

Less than half of Japan’s public schools have air conditioning, and the figure is only slightly higher at public kindergartens.

Suga said the government would also consider extending this year’s summer school holidays as the heat wave drags on.

On Monday, the city of Kumagaya in Saitama outside Tokyo set a new national heat record, with temperatures hitting 41.1 Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).

And temperatures over 40 degrees were registered for the first time in Tokyo’s metro area, where the government is promoting Uchimizu, a tradition where water is sprinkled onto the ground, as part of a summer heat awareness campaign.

It was marginally cooler on Tuesday — 36 degrees in Tokyo according to the national weather agency — but temperatures remained well above normal in most of the country, and little relief is forecast.

“We are observing unprecedented levels of heat in some areas,” weather agency official Motoaki Takekawa said late Monday.

The heatwave “is fatal, and we recognise it as a natural disaster,” he told reporters.

The agency warned that much of the country will continue baking in temperatures of 35 degrees or higher until early August.

Officials have urged people to use air conditioning, drink sufficient water and rest often.

Japan’s summers are notoriously hot and humid, and hundreds of people die each year from heatstroke, particularly the elderly in the country’s ageing society.

The heatwave follows record rainfall that devastated parts of western and central Japan with floods and landslides that killed over 220 people.

And many people in the affected areas are still living in damaged homes or shelters and working outdoors on repairs, putting them at great risk.

The record-breaking weather has revived concerns about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which will be held in two years time in July and August.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike this week promised that the heat would be given the same priority as measures to counter terrorism.

“It’s just as important because the purpose is also to protect people’s lives,” she told reporters, comparing Japan’s summer to “living in a sauna”.

AFP

Heatwave Kills 17 In Eastern Canada

Children play in the water fountains at the Place des Arts in Montreal, Canada on a hot summer day July 3, 2018. PHOTO: EVA HAMBACH / AFP

 

A heatwave in Quebec has killed at least 17 people in the past week as high summer temperatures scorched eastern Canada, health officials said on Wednesday.

Twelve of the dead were reported in the eastern province’s capital Montreal, said regional public health director Mylene Drouin.

The Tribune newspaper said five of the deaths occurred in the past 48 hours in the Eastern Townships, a rural area just east of the city.

“My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who have died in Quebec during this heat wave,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.

“The record temperatures are expected to continue in central and eastern Canada, so make sure you know how to protect yourself and your family,” Trudeau said.

Drouin said the victims were part of “the very vulnerable population, the elderly or people suffering from chronic or mental illnesses.”

Temperatures soared to 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) with a humidity that made it feel closer to 40 degrees, the meteorological service said.

The mercury has regularly topped 30 degrees since Friday in southern Quebec, accompanied by stifling humidity levels.

A government heat warning is in place for the region, but meteorologists are forecasting a drop in temperatures at the end of the week.

No deaths had been reported for the same period in the neighboring province of Ontario, which has also sizzled under extremely high temperatures.

In 2010, a heat wave killed around 100 people in the Montreal area.

AFP