Extreme weather in July 2018 across the Northern Hemisphere has led to record heat waves, drought, deadly floods, and wildfires. Graphic: Lauren Tierney / The Washington Post

By Joel Achenbach and Angela Fritz
26 July 2018

(The Washington Post) – In the town of Sodankyla, Finland, the thermometer on July 17 registered a record-breaking 90 degrees, a remarkable figure given that Sodankyla is 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a region known for winter snowmobiling and an abundance of reindeer.

This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet.

Greece is in mourning after scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires that have killed more than 80 people. Japan recorded its highest temperature in history, 106 degrees, in a heat wave that killed 65 people in a week and hospitalized 22,000, shortly after catastrophic flooding killed 200.

Ouargla, Algeria, hit 124 degrees on July 5, a likely record for the continent of Africa. And the 109-degree reading in Quriyat, Oman, on June 28 amazed meteorologists because that wasn’t the day’s high temperature. That was the low . It was the hottest low temperature ever recorded on Earth.

Montreal hit 98 degrees on July 2, its warmest temperature ever measured. Canadian health officials estimate as many as 70 people died in that heat wave.

In the United States, 35 weather stations in the past month have set new marks for warm overnight temperatures. Southern California has had record heat and widespread power outages. In Yosemite Valley, which is imperiled by wildfires, park rangers have told everyone to flee.

The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say. Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer.

And they predict that it will get hotter — and that what is a record today could someday be the norm.

“The old records belong to a world that no longer exists,” said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It’s not just heat. A warming world is prone to multiple types of extreme weather — heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts.

“You see roads melting, airplanes not being able to take off, there’s not enough water,” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. “Climate change hits us at our Achilles’ heel. In the Southwest, it’s water availability. On the Gulf Coast, it’s hurricanes. In the East, it’s flooding. It’s exacerbating the risks we already face today.” […]

“Our office doesn’t have air conditioning. I do have a fan,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. He spoke by phone from the city of Gouda, where the temperature hit 96 degrees Thursday.

“This kind of event was a 1-in-100-year event in 1900,” he said. “It’s become 20 times more likely.”

It’s Britain’s driest summer since modern records began in 1961. Reservoirs are declining rapidly, and water restrictions are in effect. The United Kingdom’s national weather service urged people to avoid the sun this week, with temperatures expected to hit 98 Fahrenheit. [more]

Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous summer

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