India Heat Wave Death Toll Nears 2,000

HYDERABAD, India — Dizzying temperatures caused water shortages in thousands of Indian villages and killed hundreds more people over the past day, driving the death toll from a weekslong heat wave to at least 1,826, officials said Friday.

Meteorological officials called the heat wave “severe” and warned that it would continue for at least two days across a huge swath of the South Asian country from Tamil Nadu in the south to the Himalayan foothill state of Himachal Pradesh.

Most of those killed by heat-related conditions including dehydration and heat stroke have been in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where 100 people died just on Thursday as temperatures hovered at about 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thousands of water tankers were delivering supplies to more than 4,000 villages and hamlets facing acute water shortages in the central state of Maharashtra, state officials told the Press Trust of India news agency.

People across India were plunging into rivers, staying in the shade and drinking lots of water to try to beat the heat. Scorched crops and dying wildlife were reported, with some animals succumbing to thirst. Many farmers and construction workers struggling with poverty were still working outdoors despite the risks.

They along with the impoverished elderly were among the most vulnerable.

Cooling monsoon rains were expected next week in the south before gradually advancing north. However, forecasting service AccuWeather warned of prolonged drought conditions, with the monsoon likely to be disrupted by a more active typhoon season over the Pacific.

“While there will be some rainfall on the region, the pattern could evolve into significant drought and negatively impact agriculture from central India to much of Pakistan,” senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls at AccuWeather said in a statement.

Source: NY Post



Deadly East Asian heat wave spreads into Japan, Korea and China

A long-lasting heat wave centered on the Chinese city of Shanghai has moved northeast into Japan and Korea, shattering high-temperature records and killing at least 10 people over the past week in those countries.

At least six people in South Korea died due to temperatures reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit, The Korea Herald reported yesterday, with hundreds suffering from heat-related illnesses.

On Sunday, Japanese wire service Jiji Press reported at least four people had died due to heatstroke, including an 80-year-old woman in Wakayama prefecture, where temperatures had soared to a record-breaking 100.6 F. Other news agencies later reported at least nine people had died.

"In the five years I've been in Japan, this has easily been the hottest summer," said Perry Constantine, an American from Des Plaines, Ill., who now teaches English in Japan's southern prefecture of Kagoshima.

Before he adjusted the cooling system in his home, Constantine said, "I would wake up at 4:30, 5 in the morning just from the sheer heat."

Temperatures in Shimanto, a city in Japan's Kochi prefecture, reached 105.8 F yesterday, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.

July and August maximum temperatures in Tokyo normally hover around 30 degrees Celsius (86 F), the Japan Meteorological Agency's website shows, although this number has been rising in recent years.

Hospitalizations rise, with no end in sight

"The heat wave issue is very concerning in Japan now," said Yano Katsunori, second secretary of the environment at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C., noting that the nation has suffered from unusual heat throughout the summer.

Over the course of July, 23,699 people in Japan were hospitalized due to heatstroke, according to Jiji Press, with 27 dying.

The heat wave is due to a high-pressure area that has stalled over south China for weeks and is now moving northeast, said Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist with "We're starting to see it flex its muscles a little bit and expand," he added.

But unless a typhoon were to move ashore and into the region, bringing rain and changes in air patterns along with it, there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight.

"I don't think any potential tropical storm or typhoon is going to be big enough or move into the right spot to really bring an end to this heat wave," Mohler said.

"When you get to a month, you usually see the end," he added. "But I don't see the end right now."

South Korea tries to cut electric demand to avoid blackouts

Meanwhile, 663 people in South Korea were reported ill from the heat yesterday, South Korean officials told The Korea Herald.

Because of "unprecedented power shortages ... expected over the summer due to higher temperatures than previous years," South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) issued a warning earlier this summer that it would impose energy restrictions on businesses using more than 5,000 kilowatts of energy.

"Additionally, during peak demand hours, public institutions and buildings with higher electricity demands will be required to turn off their air conditioners every 30 minutes," the ministry said.

Yesterday, The Korea Times reported that blackouts are "looming as a real possibility" as two of the nation's power plants suspended operations.

In the article, Kim Jun-dong, deputy minister of energy and resources policy at MOTIE, called for "cooperation from the public and private sector to avoid a nationwide power crisis."

In China, clearance procedures for thermal coal imports have been fast-tracked to make up for the region's increase in power consumption, according to the Chinese government's official press agency Xinhua.

China has struggled with record-high temperatures since early July. On Wednesday, Shanghai broke its previous record of 105.1 F -- set less than two weeks before -- as the mercury rose to 105.4 F.

Last week, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said 5.95 million people in the nation faced drinking water shortages due to the heat wave, causing losses of about 12.1 billion yuan ($1.98 billion), Xinhua reported.

"If it's not the hottest, it's certainly in the top five hottest Augusts ever in that part of China," Mohler said. "We're on that kind of a pace."



Europe Sizzles Through More Intense Heat

Even as much of the central and eastern U.S. basks in unseasonably cool July weather, Europe has been baking in another heat wave, and a renewed surge of heat promises to add to the misery in the coming days.

Polish news website reported Sunday that 41 children were taken to a hospital after suffering from overheating and dehydration waiting in a broken-down bus in the village of Gostynie in central Poland. Temperatures surged into the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius) across much of Poland's interior, including most of its largest cities.

The situation was no more bearable in Italy, where Florence and Bologna both topped out at 100ºF (38ºC) Sunday. The Corriere della Sera newspaper reported 14 Italian cities had been placed under red alerts, the highest possible alarm, for dangerous levels of heat Sunday. This included areas as far north as Milan, where the mercury reached 95ºF (35ºC).

After a brief reprieve Monday, more intense heat is expected to grip many European countries later this week with a new surge of hot air arriving from northern Africa.

Readings could surge even higher by next weekend in Italy, with both Florence and Bologna expected to push a few degrees past the century mark. Farther to the north and east, the brunt of the current heat wave will impact much of Eastern Europe on Monday.

That second surge of heat impacting Italy by next weekend will also spread across much of southern and western Europe.

Areas farther northeast such as Poland will likely be spared a second round of scorching weather. But in major European capitals such as Paris and Madrid, the heat will be brutal by late week, with Paris surging well into the 90s and much of interior Spain in triple digits.





Heat wave: Death Valley braces for record heat

New York Times - July 1, 2013

PHOENIX — An unforgiving heat wave held much of the West in a sweltering embrace over the weekend, tying or breaking temperature records in several cities, grounding flights, sparking forest fires and contributing to deaths.

An elderly man was found dead on Saturday in a home without air-conditioning in Las Vegas, where the city's temperature reached 115 degrees, tying the record for the hottest June 29 since 1994. Also, more than 200 people at an outdoor concert there were treated for heat-related problems that day, 34 of them at hospitals, the authorities said.

At trailheads at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, park rangers were trying to dissuade people from hiking the same area where a Boy Scout troop leader died of heat exposure early last month, when temperatures were lower.

At Death Valley National Park in California, whose temperature of 134 degrees a century ago stands as the highest ever recorded in the world, the digital thermometer became a busy tourist attraction over the weekend. The forecast called for a high of around 130 degrees at the park's Furnace Creek area on Sunday.

Because summer brings the highest rate of deaths among migrants trying to enter the United States illegally through Arizona, the Border Patrol added extra members to its elite search and rescue team. At least seven migrants had been found dead in the desert over the past week.

Monsoons normally bring rain and cooler temperatures to the region in July, but the heat has shown no sign of abating. Several Western states were under heat warnings on Sunday, with most of those expected to remain in effect at least through Tuesday evening. Meteorologists warned of the potential for forest fires in drought-plagued communities in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, as the clouds that build early in the monsoon season often bring lightning and wind but little or no rain.

Lightning had already started four forest fires outside New Mexico's capital, Santa Fe, on Friday. On Sunday, one of them was still burning.

"We're really kind of on the edge of our seats now and over the next week or two," said Todd Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

On Saturday, as the temperature reached 119 degrees in Phoenix, making it the city's fourth hottest day on record, US Airways canceled 18 of its regional flights because the maker of the smaller jets that fly those routes had provided performance statistics only up to temperatures of 118 degrees.

It has been so hot here in Phoenix that tigers at the zoo were served frozen fish treats and elephants were doused with hoses to keep them from overheating. Butterflies were found collapsed on the pavement, felled, apparently, by the temperatures. Mesquite trees, staples of the desert, closed their tiny leaves to protect themselves from the heat.

"This is payback time for those days that we're happy not to be the ones shoveling snow out there," Marcus Morrison, 34, said as he stood at a bus stop here on Sunday.

A wispy layer of clouds moved over the city on Friday, trapping the heat. Temperatures here had not dipped under 90 degrees since Thursday morning, and there was no sign of immediate relief in the forecast for Phoenix and elsewhere in the region.

It is only on Friday that the daytime temperatures here and in several other cities are expected to drop below 110.

The heat did not stop tourists from going outside on the Las Vegas Strip, which was thick with pedestrians sweating through tank tops over the weekend. On Saturday, Deanna Harney, who had traveled from Boston, threw her arms up to celebrate the hot weather, saying: "I love it! It's been raining back home."

Nearby, Joe Mendoza suffered under a Mario Brothers costume as he posed for pictures with tourists in exchange for tips. "I brought frozen water bottles, and I drink at least one every hour," Mr. Mendoza said through a large foam head.

Most of the people he sees, he said, "don't look like they're having a lot of fun either."


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