Iran Heat Index hits 165

August 1, 2015

Unfortunately, It’s Not a Dry Heat.

Jason Samenow for Capital Weather Gang:

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity.

Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.

To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).

iranheatAlthough there are no official records, 178 degrees (81 Celsius) is the highest known heat index ever attained. It was observed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003. In his book Extreme Weather, weather historian Christopher Burt says Dhahran, also on the Persian Gulf, registered an air temperature of 108 degrees (42 Celsius) and a dew point of 95 (35 Celsius), which computes to such an extreme heat index level.

Angela Fritz, on Seattle Heat – where it IS Dry:

Well, Seattle did it — they set a new record for most number of 90-degree days in a year yesterday. Ten! And they are likely to tack on at least one more today, with a high of 91 in the forecast, and the heat advisory has been extended into Sunday.

It’s not only been hot, though, it’s also been extremely dry. According to the National Weather Service, Seattle also set a new record for driest May 1 to July 31, with just 0.9 inches. The previous dries period was 1.73 inches back in 2003.

Seattle has more to worry about than just the heat, though — they’re also running short on water. The cities of Seattle, Everett and Tacoma issued water advisories on Monday, hoping to extend the life of their steadily shrinking reservoirs until the fall. The last time Seattle triggered its water plan was back in 2005, The Stranger reports.

“Seattle and Everett say their water outlook is ‘fair’ and they should have enough water supply into fall when rainfall typically replenishes the supply,” says King5 News in western Washington.

But how likely is a “typical” rainy fall and winter? Cliff Mass, atmospheric science professor at the University of Washington, is concerned about the growing shortage given the paltry forecasts. “Our reservoirs will get very low before the serious rains return,” says Mass. “And I worry about next summer. Drier and warmer than normal conditions will result in another low snowpack year, although probably not as extreme as this year.”

UPDATE: Christian Today – Man-made climate change: 4 continents hit by historic droughts affecting millions – :

Four continents around the world are currently experiencing historic droughts affecting millions of people, and experts warn that this is the effect of man-made climate change.

Severe dry spells are being felt not only in North America, but also in South America, Asia and Africa.

Peter Gleick, president of the global water think tank Pacific Institute based in Oakland, however, explained that each drought is unique.

“The same drought in California would have very different impacts in other countries,” he said.

For instance, a week without rain in tropical Southeast Asia, where typhoons are very common, will not be considered as drought in Africa, where dry spells are almost a way of life.

In California, 97 percent of the population is dealing with some levels of drought, despite the Golden State’s state-of-the-art water infrastructure system, considered to be the most massive in the world.

The US Drought Monitor even reported that all of California’s 12 water reservoirs are already below average levels.

As a result, most households are experiencing water shortages. This drought will also have a negative impact on wildlife and crops in the area.

In Brazil, meanwhile, 40 million people are feeling the effects of the South American country’s worst drought in five decades.

“Brazil is really suffering. It’s pushing its infrastructure to the limit,” Gleick said.

To make things worse, water in most Brazilian cities is extremely polluted and unusable, according to Charles Iceland of the D.C.-based World Resources Institute.

“In Brazil, wastewater is not treated and just dumped into rivers, which are almost like open sewers,” Iceland explained.

In South Africa, meanwhile, the drought is already affecting food supply, with harvest of crops like maize declining.

“There are concerns that there could be significant food supply shortages in coming months,” World Food Programme spokesperson Jane Howard said.

Although data is scarce about the dry spell in North Korea, the United Nations has already warned of possible mass starvation in the country.

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17 Responses to “Iran Heat Index hits 165”

  1. vierotchka Says:

    That are exactly the conditions I experienced in Pakistan, in Rawalpindi/Islamabad at the beginning of the monsoon in 1972. Unbearable.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      These are unbelievable numbers. We “experienced” only mid to upper 90’s with the high humidity in 1960 in VA while taking “nature walks” as part of USMC training. Guys suffered heat strokes and their brains fried—some died. How can a society continue to function in conditions like this? What did people do in Pakistan in 1972?


      • We’re rapidly reaching the point where some parts of the world become, literally, unsurvivable. Think about it: flooding, hurricanes, snow storms; mean bunkering down or moving and being resourceful for a period, and then it’s back to normal. But it only needs one wet bulb over-temperature event of more than a few hours’ duration and all mammals exposed, including humans, are dead of heat stroke. Any region that becomes prone to such events, even if they’re once-in-a-100-years, is uninhabitable. This is new territory for the planet in the modern era.

        If we carry on with business as usual, in due course the only solution will be to emigrate from those zones. Imagine the pressure that will put on temperate areas.

        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet-bulb_temperature

      • vierotchka Says:

        I believe such numbers are not all that rare in Pakistan and India. The people are basically acclimatized to that kind of weather, although there are deaths – especially babies and old people. They drink more than usual and get their electrolytes through salty lassi (a yoghurt and fizzy mineral water drink that can be either sweet or salty) as well as fresh sugar cane juice. I suppose that from generation to generation, those who survive and tolerate best such numbers are the ones who will reproduce and pass on their genes to subsequent generations. I reckon that the same applies to other countries which have this kind of weather, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. I experienced that heat in June, just before the monsoon. I moved to Karachi and the monsoon there didn’t bring much rain at all, but the sky was constantly overcast.

        See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Islamabad


        • I don’t think you quite get the significance of rising maximum temperatures, vierotchka.

          Whatever temperatures humans have experienced to date, it’s impossible to acclimatise to high and humid temperatures. Think about it: the human body’s operating temperature is 37.0°C. Above that temperature we perspire to cool the skin by evaporation. That’s how we regulate our body temperature. The old and the very young are not good at this and therefore can suffer and perhaps succumb: but there’s worse.

          For evaporation to work and enable mammals to regulate their body temperature, humidity must remain relatively low. Once humidity rises too high it become increasingly difficult for our sweat to evaporate and when evaporation cannot occur our core body temperature rises. Then it only takes a few hours before we, and any other mammals that use evaporative cooling, to die of heat stroke (Hyperthermia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperthermia). So at 38.3°C air temperature and above, the higher the temperature the lower the humidity must be for us to survive.

          As humidity and temperatures rise as a result of climate change, we’re at risk of some parts of the planet becoming uninhabitable in a way humans have never experienced before. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet-bulb_temperature

          “A sustained wet-bulb temperature exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) is likely to be fatal even to fit and healthy people, unclothed in the shade next to a fan; at this temperature our bodies switch from shedding heat to the environment, to gaining heat from it.”

          • vierotchka Says:

            Every year in northern Pakistan and much of India, the humidity just before the onset of monsoon is extremely high, as are the temperatures. Were people unable to acclimatize and adapt to that, there would no longer be any people in those regions.


        • As JR says below. There is no natural selection for people once extreme humidity and temperature are reached. Once core body temperature rises due to the inability to shed excess heat, enzymes that drive basic bodily functions begin to fail (denature). This occurs around 40degC(body temp). There is no adaptation at this point, you either cool down or die!

  2. neilrieck Says:

    I don’t need to tell people here that wet-heat represents humidex while dry-heat represents actual temperature. I have been out of school too long so can’t remember if enzymes in most animals (including humans) completely shut down at a temperature of 52C or 55C. Normal body temperature is 37C and most of us will run into consciousness problems before 43C which is why we need to drink a lot of water to discard excess heat via evaporation (making certain core-temperature never becomes as high as environmental temperature).

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Proteins (which include enzymes) in the human body start to denature (break apart or change structural “shape” so that functionality begins to be lost) at around 41 degrees C (106 F). A body temperature that stays above that for very long is very dangerous, and 108-110 is likely to be fatal (a definite “consciousness problem”) if not brought down quickly. That’s why there tend to be fairly large numbers of fatalities in the big heat waves—-too many for the emergency services to deal with within the limited treatment window before they die.

      Regarding my experience, after a congressman’s son had his brain fried from heat stroke, they took to having vehicles with GI cans full of ice stationed where the march route crossed roads. Anyone who went down was immediately laid flat and packed with ice between arms and body, between the legs, and around the neck and head. On one hike (aka “death march”) on a bad day, the corpsmen were freaking out because so many guys were going down—-they got the senior officer present to halt the march and drafted those of us still standing to haul ice and help them pack the casualties (while the senior NCO’s mumbled about what a bunch of pussies were joining their beloved Corps).

      52 to 55 degrees C is about 130+ degrees F, and “complete” (and permanent) shutdown will occur long before the body gets to that temperature. Food starts to “cook” in the 140’s, and “safe” cooking temps are in the 145-165 range.

      The human body will work hard to shed heat and stay within the normal temperature range—I have been in 115 degrees in AZ and drove across the Mojave at mid-day in similar temps—-but that was “dry” heat and not that uncomfortable IF you stayed out of the sun and didn’t try to do much. I can’t imagine trying to function in the conditions in the Persian Gulf area.

  3. philip64 Says:

    Welcome to the 21st Century definition of ‘hot’.

  4. redskylite Says:

    I lived in humid Abu Dhabi for over ten years and often worked in the deserts of the empty quarter. I left at the turn of the century and people who still live there tell me they have noticed the climate changing. You can acclimatize to a certain point, especially with air conditioning, life gets truly shitty without it.

    The Bedouins and camel herders amazed me, they lived out in the desert without modern luxuries, and were just as susceptible to heatstroke as any other human, but they understood how to minimize the risk with loose clothing and cloth around the head to minimize moisture loss, keeping in shade through the hottest part of the day and plenty of fluids.

    The poor folks who died in Pakistan and India this year were mainly from the low income classes, who had to go out and work in the heat of the day.

    Humans must modify their lifestyle to survive in the hotter parts of the world as temperatures are only going to get more and more intense as time goes by and ghg density increases, local governments and businesses must provide facilities where people can seek shade and comfort.

    An interesting fact according to the Guardian is that charging smartphones in 2019 will create more ghg’s than 1 million (fossil fueled ?) vehicles.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/31/whats-greener-beef-or-potatoes-test-your-carbon-footprint-knowledge-quiz

  5. redskylite Says:

    I hope that no-one believes that people of the tropics can adapt indefinitely, that would be truly callous and almost be homicidal.

    “Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation.”

    An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress

    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552.full

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Only the ignorant and wishful thinkers believe that “people of the tropics can adapt indefinitely”. The slowly boiling frog dies and becomes the cooked frog when temperatures get high enough. Period. You can’t “adapt” to having your biochemistry as badly disrupted as will occur with these projected temperatures.

      You have cited a good study, and they do a great job of supporting their contention that “…heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation”, although anyone with a brain and some understanding of biology already knew that.

      And your other comment that “The poor folks who died in Pakistan and India this year were mainly from the low income classes, who had to go out and work in the heat of the day” gives us a clue as to who is going to be most affected by temperature rise.

      Those in the developing countries that have no choice but to “go out in the heat of the day and work” if they don’t want to starve. Of course, those who CAN afford A/C and other means of “mitigating” had better hope they don’t lose power at the peak of a heat wave. A multi-day outage in many American cities in a mid-July heat wave will kill thousands. The folks in the cities in AZ will not survive long without A/C. (I had my A/C break down in mid-July in VA one year, and if I hadn’t been able to hook up multiple fans to sit in front of, we would have had to move out until it was repaired—it was that bad).

  6. redskylite Says:

    Iraq’s scorching heat kills 52 children in refugee camps…………

    Children die, evolution does not react at the speed we are changing things ….

    http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/31072015

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Actually, “evolution” will NEVER “react” in a satisfactory way to temperatures that get into the 120-130 degree F range, except through extinction or forced migration of any population of mammals that live there.

      To repeat, biochemical processes work only within a certain framework of conditions—-sunlight, temperature, water, salinity, nutrients—-go too far outside the limits and life simply ceases.

      As johnrussell said, this is a game changer.


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