Severe heatwave of 52C (125.6F) hits the Middle East

Record Heat Alert

Intolerably high temperatures and soaring humidity are close to breaking meteorological records across region
A heatwave has engulfed much of the Middle East, sending temperatures and humidity soaring throughout the region. 
 
The searing heat, ailing infrastructure and power cuts have combined to create a particularly intolerable climate in an area already notorious for its hot summers.
 
In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, temperatures are expected to hover around 51C for most of the week and reach 52C at the weekend.
 
In Iraq, the government ordered a four-day holiday to help people deal with the heatwave, while residents in Lebanon without electricity have taken to sleeping on bare floor tiles to cool themselves amid the electricity cuts, unable to operate their air conditioning.
 
In Beirut, nestled on the Mediterranean coast, temperatures will hover in the 30s, but humidity levels of over 50% and the city’s increasingly frequent power cuts have combined to create an oppressive heat that has residents sweltering, just a week after stinking garbage piles spilled over into the city’s streets in a crisis that highlighted the government’s chronic dysfunction.
 
Those who can afford to, cool off at the city’s private beaches or swimming pools. Those who can’t are directing their anger at their failing government and in particular the state provider, Electricité du Liban, which has said it will ration supplies amid ongoing repairs at its power plants.
 
“We had electricity from 3 to 6am last night, and the power comes on one hour during the day,” said Hasan, who lives in Beirut’s southern suburbs, where power cuts have been especially dire during the heatwave. “Officials sit in their offices with electricity, so my message to them is to go kill themselves.”
 
In the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where citizens are protesting against stubborn power cuts that have made the height of summer even more unbearable, a high of 49C will be the norm this week.
 
The Iraqi meteorological agency said temperatures around the country this week would average 48-51C. 
 
On Friday, a combination of extreme heat and humidity, made the air in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr feel like 73C although the actual temperature there was around 46C. The city, which has a population of around 150,000, is situated in Iran’s south-western oil-rich province of Khuzestan, close to the Iraqi border.
 
Pictures posted online showed traffic cones across Bandar Mahshahr melting due to the heatwave.
 
“That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani in a statement.
 
The Gulf states will also endure temperatures as high as 48C in Kuwait City, and the mid-40s in Dubai and Riyadh. 
 
A weekend dust storm in Jordan wreaked havoc on Queen Alia international airport, diverting planes and engulfing the facility with giant plumes of smoke. 
 
“Around the Persian Gulf, where water temperatures are in the lower to middle-90s (30sC), the extreme heat combines with incredibly high humidity to produce astounding apparent temperatures,” according to Sagliani.
 
Experts say the high temperatures, which have come close to breaking regional records, are the result of a high atmospheric pressure ridge hovering above much of the Middle East that has persisted since July.
 
A heatwave in Pakistan earlier this summer killed hundreds of people.
Courtesy of theguardian.com

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