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Record-breaking Hot Summer Is Only Half Over

FILE - People swim in the ocean off of Crandon Park, July 28, 2023, in Key Biscayne, Fla (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
Record-breaking Hot Summer Is Only Half Over
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At about summer's halfway point, scientists say the world’s record-breaking heat and weather extremes are both unprecedented and unsurprising.

American and European meteorologists also expect a hotter-than-normal August and September.

Gavin Schmidt is a NASA climate scientist. He told The Associated Press, “The heat waves that we’re seeing in the U.S. and in Europe, in China are demolishing records left, right and center. This is not a surprise.”

“We’re going to be seeing this pretty much this year and into next year," Schmidt said. Along with human-caused climate change, there is also the natural El Nino warming of the Pacific Ocean.

Here is a look at what has happened so far this summer:

Record-breaking heat

The month of June this year was the hottest June on record in the world. Scientists say July has been so hot that even before the month was over they could say it was the hottest month on record. In some places, the heat has been deadly.

In Phoenix, Arizona, the last day of June and each day of July has been at least 43 degrees Celsius. The area also set records for the longest period with temperatures at 32 and higher.

El Paso, Texas, had 44 days of 37-degree heat. Schools closed in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico a month earlier than normal as temperatures reached 45 degrees.

Beijing, China experienced 27 days of 35 degrees in July. That came after three 40-degree days in June.

Heat records fell all over southern Europe. Sardinia, Italy, hit 47 degrees. Palermo in Sicily broke a record that goes back to 1791 by 2 degrees.

Spain reported nearly 1,000 extra deaths from the heat by mid-July, mostly among older people.

Too much rain

More than 10,000 people had to be evacuated in central Hunan province in China. Heavy rainfall there caused at least 70 houses to collapse. In Yichang, rain caused a landslide that buried a construction site and killed at least one person.

Australia’s Queensland desert got 13 times its normal monthly July rain in just one day.

Thousands of people were evacuated from Delhi in India as rains caused floods and landslides. Heavy rain and flooding caused several deaths in northeastern states of the U.S.

Wildfires and smoke

Too little rain in Greece and Spain worsened wildfires. In the Canary Islands, a fire caused 4,000 people to evacuate and 400 firefighters battling it.

Hot and dry conditions caused about 160 wildfires to break out in Israel in early June.

In northern Quebec, Canada, wildfire smoke spread to create the world’s dirtiest air in cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

FILE - National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel distribute relief material to flood affected people stuck in a low lying area around the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, July 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)
FILE - National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel distribute relief material to flood affected people stuck in a low lying area around the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, July 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

As of late July, more than 600 wildfires were out of control in Canada. A record 123,000 square kilometers burned, and fire season is not nearly done. That is an area larger than North Korea.

Water temperatures

Water temperatures in the Florida Keys and off the Everglades hit the high 30s.

The North Atlantic had hot spots that alarmed scientists. The world’s oceans as a whole were the hottest ever in June and got even hotter in July. In Antarctica, sea ice broke record-low levels.

Ocean temperatures take a long time to warm up and cool down, said Victor Gensini who teaches meteorology at the University of Northern Illinois. He added that it does not look good for the rest of the summer.

A hot forecast

U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Rosencrans expects above normal temperatures for the next three months.

The only possible relief he sees, especially in the hot Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, is if a hurricane or tropical storm moves through. But the height of hurricane season in September has not even started.

With the summer’s weather extremes so far, University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann had one question: “How on God’s Earth are we still burning fossil fuels after witnessing all this?”

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.


Words in This Story

unprecedented — adj. not done or experienced before

meteorologist — n. a scientist that deals with the atmosphere and with weather

demolish — v. to damage so that it cannot be repaired

evacuate — v. to remove from a dangerous place

hurricane — n. an extremely large, powerful, and destructive storm with very strong winds that occurs especially in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean

fossil fuel — n. energy in the form of gas, coal and oil that is taken from the ground and comes from the breakdown of old matter