Back in May, official temperatures soared to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) as humidity levels spiked in Cairo, Egypt. The early high heat and humidity sparked anxiety among residents worrying over the coming summer. Public complaints about official temperatures being lower than actual measures were widespread among a populace vulnerable to heat exposure in a notoriously hot region of the world suffering the ongoing impacts of human-forced warming.
The below video captures some of the sentiment of a few months ago, when concern that record global temperatures in the range of 1 degree Celsius above 1880s averages might result in harm to Egypt’s populace was widespread and growing:
(Egyptian residents feared the killing heat was coming back in May. Sadly, their concerns have born out as a powerful heatwave in July and August is resulting in tragic loss of life there. Video source here.)
Unfortunately, the early fears appear to have been all-too-valid. For in late July a seasonal flow of hot, humid air from India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf began to settle over Egypt. The hot air issued from regions where deaths from 2015 heatwaves numbered in the hundreds and thousands, where hospitalizations numbered in the tens of thousands. As the heat dome extended its oppressive tendrils over Egypt, both temperatures and humidity spiked — pushing wet bulb readings into ranges that made it difficult for humans to maintain body temperatures. Official air temperature readings ranged from 35 to 47 degrees Celsius (95 to 116 degrees Fahrenheit) and the added moisture reduced the ability of evaporation to cool the skin.
The risk of heat injury rose. And over the past few days this hot air and humidity spike began to prey on Egyptian residents. The result was 42 tragic deaths due to the excess heat over the past two days alone. Scores more were hospitalized as the entire country from north to south sweltered.
Weather forecasts, unfortunately, show the hothouse heat continuing to blanket Egypt throughout the coming month. Let’s hope that, somehow, the terrible toll in heat casualties abates.
Japan Heatwave Mass Casualty Event Continues
It’s a hotter world we live in now. One in which any of us living on Earth are now four times as likely to experience a heatwave than we were during the 1880s. And at the most extreme end of this spectrum are the heatwave mass casualty events — which this year have been very numerous and widespread. Italy, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan, India and Japan have now all experienced mass hospitalizations and deaths due to the excess heat of a world forced to rapidly warm by human fossil fuel emissions.
For Japan, which has been experiencing heatwave related deaths and hospitalizations since July, the harm due to excess heat spiked to new extremes this week. There, over the past seven days alone, nearly 12,000 people were hospitalized due to heat stroke. That’s the highest number of heatwave related casualties since tracking of these new events began in 2008. And of the thousands hospitalized, an additional 32 souls were lost.
(Heat and humidity from a pool of anomalously hot ocean water is still blasting Japan, resulting in the hospitalization of an ever-rising number heatstroke victims. Sea surface temperatures remain in the range of 2-4 degrees Celsius above average as a heat dome high pressure system swelters Japan. Sea surface temperature anomaly map by Earth Nullschool.)
The new wave of deaths and hospitalizations brings to over 45,000 the total number of heat stroke victims requiring emergency care in Japan during this summer alone. More than a thousand of these victims have required care extending longer than 3 weeks. And, tragically, more than 85 souls have now been lost.
During this time, Tokyo shattered its record for longest period of 35 C (95 F) degree or hotter days running. The above 35 C readings extended for a full eight days from July 31 to August 7th. It’s high heat and humidity that resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations for that city alone. And though the heat has somewhat abated, temperatures during recent days have remained in the range of 33 to 34 C (92 to 94 F)– still scorching-hot for a typically much cooler city.
Overall, Japan’s oppressive heat dome hasn’t budged. And it will likely remain in place until extremely hot sea surface temperatures surrounding Japan begin to abate. As of today, there was little sign of such relief as the hot waters remained in the range of 2-4 degrees Celsius above average. And so the hot waters continued to pump both heat and moisture into the air around and over Japan, spiking wet bulb readings and creating a dangerous situation for residents not at all used to these abnormal conditions.
Hat Tip to Brian
Hat Tip to Colorado Bob