Thursday, May 28, 2015

India Heat Is Worst Weather Disaster Of The Year

Melting pavement during the intense heat
wave underway in India.  
Although it is getting some increasing media coverage in recent days, you could still be forgiven for not even hearing about an epic weather disaster unfolding this week.

No, it's not the Texas floods, though those are incredible, with billions in damage and at least 19 deaths.

Yes, tornadoes have been spinning up across parts of the Plains and Midwest, but that's not what I'm talking about, either.

The enormous weather disaster now unfolding is a terrible heat wave in India and Pakistan. So far, at least 1,000 people have died, and the unrelenting heat will certainly kill more people this week.

The Hindustan Times put it most graphically, as temperatures soared to 48 degrees Celcius, or about 118 degrees Fahrenheit:

"Humans 'boil in their own skin' at 48 degrees Celcius, the maximum temperaure record at Khamman in Telangana, which has become the focal point of a blistering heat wave sweeping through swaths of India."

True, other parts of the world, like Arizona and Saudi Arabia, get that hot and people do just fine. But they can retreat to air conditioned buildings in Phoenix and Riyadh. Not so in much of India, especially the poor and homeless, who must sit out there in that horrible heat. It's more humid, too, than in the deserts, so it makes it worse.

A disaster that kills more than a 1,000 people, with a spiraling death toll continuing, is usually big news. But every picture tells a story. More so than the printed word.

Heat waves are not telegenic. We are in awe of flash floods sweeping away buildings or tornadoes lifting whole houses into the sky. But a heat wave just bakes the populace quietly, with no fireworks.

The only dramatic photos we get are of pavement melting under the relentless Indian sun.

Heat waves are often the world's biggest weather killer, During a summer long heat wave in Europe back in 2003, 70,000 people, mostly elderly and ill people, died in the torrid conditions.

An extreme Russian heat wave in 2010 killed 11,000 people in just Moscow.

With climate change, bigger, more intense and longer heat waves are becoming more likely, so ore fatal heat waves seem to be a good bet

In India, the heat is forecast to continue for days. This disaster is only going to get worse.

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