Extreme Temperature Diary-Friday July 31, 2020/ Main Topic: Recent Middle Eastern Heat Wave

Friday July 31st… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Recent Middle Eastern Heat Wave

Dear Diary. Heat waves with anomalous warmth are popping up all over the Northern Hemisphere this year, enhanced by carbon pollution. A prolonged heat wave just ended east of the Rockies except along the immediate East Coast. A new heat wave has temperatures soaring to as high as 120°F in the U.S. Southwest. Overseas in the Middle East, which is no stranger to baking conditions, all-time maxes are being set in a few locations. Today we will be concentrating on recent heat occurring across the Middle Eastern region and what that signifies for residents there.

A large heat dome, as usual, was responsible for anomalously high heat in the Middle East. Here is a chart from Wednesday showing the thing above 594 decameters. Unfortunately, I don’t have a chart centered on the Arabian Peninsula:

We can see that the ridge extended eastward into Iraq and Iran. Here is one of the social media messages with good data that I saw from Thursday:

For in depth analysis here is a Washington Post article:


Capital Weather Gang

Baghdad soars to 125 blistering degrees, its highest temperature on record

Extreme heat hits the Middle East, with records falling in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria.

By Matthew Cappucci and Mustafa Salim July 29, 2020 at 12:23 p.m.

High pressure brought extreme temperatures to Iraq on Tuesday. This map shows where the core of high pressure was located. (WeatherBell)

Record high temperatures have been plaguing the Middle East, the mercury soaring to extreme levels during a blistering and unforgiving heat wave. Baghdad surged to its highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday.

Tuesday’s preliminary high of 125.2 degrees (51.8 Celsius) in Iraq’s capital city shatters its previous record of 123.8 degrees set on July 30, 2015, for any day of the year.

On Wednesday, Baghdad followed up with a temperature of 124 degrees, its second-highest temperature on record. On Monday, it had reached 123 degrees.

Iraqi men cool off under a public shower at a street in central Baghdad on Wednesday. (Murtaja Lateef/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The crippling heat forced many residents indoors, and street sellers had to seek whatever shade they could find. With the state electricity grid failing, many households were relying on generators to power fridges, fans or air-conditioning units, the machines adding a guttural hum to the city’s already-noisy streets.

Two protesters were shot dead by security forces Monday during demonstrations over a lack of electricity and basic services amid the heat wave.

In nearby Lebanon, where a nationwide electricity crisis has left much of the country with less than three hours of state-provided power per day, the cost of a generator had doubled, leaving many households to go without.

Weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera tweeted that a location about 30 miles east of Beirut registered Lebanon’s highest temperature on record Tuesday, 113.7 degrees (45.4 Celsius), while additional locations in Iraq and Saudi Arabia also set records.

Herrera added that on Wednesday, Damascus, Syria’s capital city, tied its hottest temperature on record, hitting 114.8 degrees (46 Celsius).

More near-record temperatures in the 120s are likely Thursday in and around Baghdad before a slight moderation Friday. Highs to round out the week into the weekend should fall back into the upper 110s.AD

For comparison, the hottest temperature ever measured in Phoenix is 122 degrees in 1990. Records date back to 1895. Phoenix hasn’t made it to 120 degrees or greater since 1995.

The excessive heat can be attributed to a ridge of high pressure anchored over the Middle East, drifting west over the Red Sea toward Egypt. Beneath the “heat dome,” sinking air has warmed to extreme levels, while ridding the sky of any cloud cover that could offer the respite of brief cooling shade.

On Tuesday, the most intense part of the heat dome stretched from Israel and the eastern Mediterranean Sea to southern Israel and northern Saudi Arabia. That placed Baghdad under the core of the sweltering heat, while light clockwise winds around the high brought a gentle north-northwesterly breeze.

Tuesday’s preliminary high of 125.2 degrees (51.8 Celsius) in Iraq’s capital city shatters its previous record of 123.8 degrees set on July 30, 2015, for any day of the year.

In Baghdad, a northwesterly breeze would bring in slightly more humid air from Lake Tharthar, which would acutely reduce the air’s ability to warm up. But a more northerly component to the wind, as occurred, draws in slightly drier air.

Temperatures this extreme heat the air up so much that it expands, meaning the height of a column of air grows taller in response to the warming. (It’s the same reason an inflated balloon changes size based on the temperature.) The lower half of the atmosphere grew more than 280 feet taller than average on Tuesday thanks to the intense heating.

That expansion also causes the air to push outward more, explaining how “high pressure” systems get their name.

The high pressure ridge will shift southwest in the coming days, parking over central Egypt. Meanwhile, temperatures may warm into the upper 120s on Thursday over southeastern Mesopotamia near the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran.

While heat records can occur thanks solely to natural variability, they are disproportionately more likely to occur thanks to warming effects of climate change. Moreover, the human contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere has knocked the earth’s relative balance of cold-and-warm anomalies off-kilter, skewing the planet strongly hot.

Several major international cities have notched their highest temperatures on record in the past several summers, including Paris, Montreal, Havana, Glasgow and San Francisco.

An Iraqi street vendor sells cold water bottles during a sweltering hot Wednesday at the Al-Khilani square in central Baghdad. (Murtaja Lateef/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Humidity and heat extremes are on the verge of exceeding limits of human survivability, study finds

Planet is entering ‘new climate regime’ with ‘extraordinary’ heat waves intensified by global warming, study says

Mustafa Salim reported from Baghdad. Louisa Loveluck contributed to this article from Beirut. Jason Samenow contributed from Washington.

Matthew Cappucci is a meteorologist for Capital Weather Gang. He earned a B.A. in atmospheric sciences from Harvard University in 2019, and has contributed to The Washington Post since he was 18. He is an avid storm chaser and adventurer, and covers all types of weather, climate science, and astronomy.Follow

Mustafa Salim is a reporter in The Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau. He joined the paper in 2014, covering the rise of the Islamic State and Iraq’s military campaign to defeat it. Follow

Unfortunately the first regions on the planet that will become “uninhabitable” will be in the Middle Eastern area, probably near the Red Sea where humidity also comes into play during the summer. By uninhabitable I mean not being able to survive too long outside without some sort of cooling apparatus beyond drinking water as the heat index exceeds 130°F. The whole region is arid as is but will become more desert like as the 21st century progresses according to most climate models. It’s up to us all to prevent large tracks of this planet from becoming uninhabitable by limiting greenhouse gases.

Of course, I’ll be report extreme temperatures from the Middle East and elsewhere on this blog.

Here are some of Friday’s “ET’s:

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”

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