A Drought Risk Index map of the Mekong River Basin, April 2016. The areas in red are those that have been most impacted by the El Niño-driven drought that is occurring now in the region. Graphic: FutureWater

By Christopher C. Burt
19 April 2016

(wunderground.com) – What is most likely the most intense heat wave ever observed in Southeast Asia has been ongoing for the past several weeks. All-time national heat records have been observed in Cambodia, Laos, and (almost) in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Meanwhile extreme heat has resulted in all-time record high temperatures in the Maldives, India, China, and portions of Africa as well. Here are the details.

Southeast Asia

We all assumed that the strong El Niño this year would result in drought and high temperatures in Southeast Asia. It seems that although El Niño didn’t work out so well for California (precipitation–wise) the expected impact of the system over performed in Southeast Asia where all-time heat records have been broken and a withering drought is in progress. Maximiliano Herrera, the foremost climatologist investigating world temperature records, has provided the following statistics. These figures are confirmed by the respective meteorological agencies that maintain their countries climate data.


National all-time record high of 42.6°C (108.7°F) set at Preah Vihea on April 15th. This surpassed the record set just two days previously at Bantey Ampil (42.2°C/108.0°F on April 13th). Prior to this year, the maximum measured temperature in Cambodia was 41.4°C (106.5°F) at Stoeng Treng in 1960. The capital city of Phnom Penh also measured its highest temperature on record with a 41.0°C (105.8°F) reading and about half a dozen other cities and towns saw temperatures peak above the previous national record of 1960!


National all-time record high of 42.3°C (108.1°F) set at Seno on April 13th. This surpassed the former record of 42.0°C (107.6°F) record at Savannakhet in March 1933. An all-time national record high minimum temperature was measured at Takhek on April 13th when the low fell to only 30.5°C (86.9°F).


Near national record achieved at Sukhothai on April 12th with a 44.3°C (111.7°F) reading just shy of the record 44.5°C (112.1°F) observed at Uttaradit on 27 April 1960. In addition to Sukhothai at least 50 Thai towns and cities broke or tied their all-time record maximum temperatures (including the normally temperate island resort of Ko Samui with a 38.0°C/100.4°F reading). The minimum of 31.4°C (88.5°F) at Sakhon Nakon on April 15th was likely the warmest low ever measured in the country outside of the Bangkok metropolitan area. […]


The real story for Vietnam has been the historic drought (said to be the worst in 100 years) that has impacted the fertile Mekong Delta region (and also the rest of mainland Southeast Asia). So far the warmest temperature measured in the country has been 41.8°C (107.2°F) at Tuong Duong on April 15th. The same site holds Vietnam’s all-time heat record of 42.7°C (108.9°F) set on 12 May 1966.


Mindanao Island observed its highest temperature on record at General Santos with a 39.4°C (102.9°F) reading on April 16th. This is a long way from the national record of 42.2°C (108.0°F) set at Tuguegarao in April 1912 and May 1969, but is indicative of how far east the heat progressed.

All in all, the on-going heat wave is easily the most intense such to affect Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia since at least 1960 and probably even more so. [more]

Extraordinary Heat Wave Sweeps Southeast Asia and Points Beyond



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