Relentless US heat wave sizzles into August
Climate change plays a significant role in intensifying and prolonging current heatwaves, making them more frequent and severe.
A prolonged and intense heat wave continues to affect large parts of the United States, showing no signs of abating, as per weather forecasts. This extended period of extreme heat has significant consequences for both the economy and public health, and is exacerbating drought conditions in Texas and the Southwest.
The scorching temperatures have persisted for over a month, with cities like El Paso enduring 35 consecutive days with temperatures reaching or exceeding 38 degrees Celsius. Such relentless heat can lead to the drying out of vegetation and the rapid development of drought conditions.
The weather pattern, characterized by a heat dome - a high-pressure system aloft over the Southwest - is expected to maintain its hold over much of the Southeast to Southwest regions, occasionally expanding into the Plains, Midwest, and South Central states. Meanwhile, Europe has also experienced record-breaking temperatures, and another surge of extreme heat is anticipated in the upcoming days.
At present, approximately 116 million people in the US are under heat alerts, with expectations that this number will increase. The Southeast is currently experiencing hazardous heat, and the oppressive conditions are projected to spread north and eastward.
Meteorologists predict that the Midwest will face its highest temperatures of the summer during the following week and the beginning of August. However, unfortunately, the Southwest is unlikely to find much relief from the scorching temperatures.
The record warmth is influenced by unusually warm ocean temperatures, particularly in the North Atlantic, where hurricane forecasters are closely monitoring the situation. Climate change plays a significant role in intensifying and prolonging these heat waves, making them more frequent and severe.
Due to the abnormally warm waters, the US' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued the highest level of coral bleaching alert for certain regions. Overall, this year is on track to set records for the warmest month and summer, with climate change contributing to the increasing occurrence of such extreme heat events.