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Scorching heatwaves set to break records around the globe | The Express Tribune


Unforgiving heat scorched parts of the Northern Hemisphere on Monday, triggering health warnings and fanning wildfires in the latest stark reminder of the effects of global warming.

From North America to Europe and Asia, people gulped water and sought shelter from the sweltering heat, as temperatures crept toward record highs.

Europe, the globe’s fastest-warming continent, was bracing for its hottest-ever temperature this week on Italy’s islands of Sicily and Sardinia, where a high of 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) is predicted, according to the European Space Agency.

“We’re from Texas and it’s really hot there, we thought we would escape the heat but it’s even hotter here,” Colman Peavy, 30, said as he sipped a capuccino at an outside terrasse in central Rome with his wife Ana at the start of a two-week Italian vacation.

The mercury was due to hit 40C afternoon on Monday in Rome, where some 15,000 braved the temperatures the previous day to hear Pope Francis lead prayers, using parasols and fans to keep cool.

Priest Francois Mbemba said he was “sweating like hell” under his black robes, adding that it felt hotter in St Peter’s Square than in his Democratic Republic of Congo diocese.

In Japan, heatstroke alerts were issued in 32 out of the country’s 47 prefectures, mainly in central and southwestern regions, as scorching temperatures continued Monday.

Read more: Dangerous heatwaves strike globe as wildfires rage

At least 60 people in Japan were treated for heatstroke, local media reported.

The heat was enough for at least one man to dispense with social mortification in Hamamatsu city.

“It’s honestly unbearable without a parasol, although I have to admit it is a bit embarrassing,” he told national broadcaster NHK as he used an umbrella to shield out the sun.

By late afternoon, Toyota city, home to the leading automaker, had recorded the country’s highest temperature for the day of 39.1 degrees Celsius, as television broadcasters urged people to stay indoors and avoid the life-threatening heat.

Japan’s highest-ever temperature was 41.1C first recorded in Kumagaya city in 2018.

Authorities warned residents in southwestern regions still recovering from recent torrential rain and floods to stay hydrated as they cleaned up their houses.

In Western and southern states in the US, which are used to high temperatures, more than 80 million people were under advisories as a “widespread and oppressive” heatwave roasted the region.

California’s Death Valley, often among the hottest places on Earth, reached a near-record 52C Sunday afternoon.

In Arizona, the state capital Phoenix recorded its 17th straight day above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), as temperatures hit 113F (45C) on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re used to 110, 112 (degrees Fahrenheit) … But not the streaks,” Nancy Leonard, a 64-year-old retiree from the nearby suburb of Peoria, told AFP. “You just have to adapt”.

Southern California was fighting numerous wildfires, including one in Riverside County that has burned more than 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) and prompted evacuation orders.

In Europe, Italians were warned to prepare for “the most intense heatwave of the summer and also one of the most intense of all time”.

Predictions of historic highs in the coming days led the health ministry to sound a red alert for 16 cities including Rome, Bologna and Florence.

Temperatures were due to hit 42C-43C in Rome on Tuesday, smashing the record of 40.5C set in August 2007.

Greece saw a brief respite on Monday, as temperatures eased a bit and the Acropolis in Athens resumed its regular opening hours after closing down for three days during the hottest time of the day. But a new heatwave was expected from Thursday and meteorologists warned of a heightened risk of wildfires amid strengthening winds from the Aegean Sea.

In Romania, temperatures are expected to reach 39C on Monday across most of the country.

Little reprieve is forecast for Spain, where meteorologists warned that “abnormally high” temperatures on Monday, including up to 44C in the southern Andalusia region in what would be a new regional record.

Along with the heat, parts of Asia have also been battered by torrential rain.

South Korea’s president vowed Monday to “completely overhaul” the country’s approach to extreme weather, after at least 40 people were killed in recent flooding and landslides during monsoon rains, which are forecast to continue through Wednesday.

In northern India, relentless monsoon rains have reportedly killed at least 90 people, following burning heat.

Major flooding and landslides are common during India’s monsoons, but experts say climate change is increasing their frequency and severity.

China on Sunday issued several temperature alerts, warning of 40-45C in the partly desert region of Xinjiang, and 39C in southern Guangxi region.

It can be difficult to attribute a particular weather event to climate change, but many scientists insist that global warming is behind the intensification of heatwaves.

The EU’s climate monitoring service said the world saw its hottest June on record last month.


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