Saturday, August 1, 2015

It Feels Like It's 163 Degrees In Iran

A man in Baghdad, Iraq tries to cool off
as temperatures climb to 124 degrees Thursday
Photo by Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP Photo.
Now I feel wimpy.

The other day here in Vermont, I was whining about it being so stuffy outside - temperatures in the 80s with dewpoints in the low 70s.

That's certainly warm and humid, but also definitely not dangerous, unless I was vigorously exercising in those conditions, which I wasn't.

Parts of the Middle East, though, have been truly dangerous in recent days. The heat index - a rough approximation of what it feels like outside if you take temperature and humidity into account - was 163 degrees at one point.

Of course, such extreme conditions are incredibly dangerous for anybody stuck outside, or without access to air conditioning.

The Weather Channel notes that more than three million Iraqis are displaced by violent conflict. Many areas of the country suffer through electricity outages and water cuts, putting a lot of people in danger.

Tragically, we already have reports of at least 53 children dying in an Iraqi refugee camp due to the heat. I'm worried we'll hear about a lot more deaths in coming days.

The Iraqi government declared a four-day holiday late this past week to keep people from working outside in the conditions and to save electricity.

The water temperature in the Persian Gulf is well into the 90s, and water that warm releases LOTS of moisture into the air, building up humidity. When a breeze blows off the Persian Gulf into places like Iran and Iraq, the humidity and heat become ridiculous.

The dewpoint is a measure of relative amounts of moisture in the air. It's the point at which the temperature must fall to create fog or dew.  The higher the dewpoint, the more unbearably humid it feels.

For most people, if the dewpoint gets up to around 70, it feels quite muggy and uncomfortable.  A dewpoint of 90 is ridiculous, and that's what happened this week along Persian Gulf shores. That yielded a heat index of around 160 at Mahshahr Airport in southwestern Iran.

Some of these Mid-Eastern Countries came close to their all time hottest temperatures over the past few days.  It was 127 degrees in Mitribah, Kuwait Thursday, just short of the nation's all time hottest temperature of 128.5 degrees set two years ago.

It was 125.6 degrees in Kanaquin, Iraq, and 124 degrees in Baghdad.

Record and near record heat waves are consistent with rising temperatures in the face of climate change. Unprecedented heat waves have struck many areas of the Northern Hemisphere since May, including Pakistan, India, Alaska, parts of Europe and the Pacific Northwest in the United States.

It's all about me, of course, so as I sit in Vermont and watch these extreme heat waves, today I'm relaxing in temperatures that are expected to be just shy of 80 degrees and dewpoints in the comfortable upper 50s.

But I'm sure one of these summers in the near future, Vermont will get its record heat wave, too. It's just a matter of time.

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