June 2023: Heat records broken around the world

Heatwaves are wreaking havoc across the world causing record-breaking temperatures on land and in the ocean. In Texas, a heat dome has pushed the power grid to its limit, with no end in sight. Solar and battery storage are helping to prevent blackouts.

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Climate State

Date Posted:

June 25, 2023

Heatwaves shattering records all around the world, on land, and in the ocean.

InsideClimateNews: Federal forecasters say there’s “no end in sight” for the blistering heat wave that is pushing the Texas power grid to its limit. Solar power and battery storage have helped to prevent blackouts.

Texas and Mexico sweltering under record high temperatures

The Independent: A June heat dome has strained power grids on both sides of the border

Mexico and parts of the US southwest are sweltering under record high temperatures that show no sign of abating as summer begins.

The heat has been especially intense in the state of Texas, where the towns of San Angelo and Del Rio both set records on Tuesday with temperatures of 114 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit (F) respectively. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which said it experienced an unofficial record demand for energy on Monday, asked users to conserve their energy usage on Tuesday evening.

ERCOT, which supplies energy to roughly 25 million customers across the state, has been under intense pressure since it was forced to implement rolling partial grid shutdowns during a 2021 winter storm in Texas that left millions of people without power.

But it’s not the only power grid struggling to cope with elevated demands due to the heat. Mexico’s energy authority also issued a grid capacity alert earlier this week as the heat has also driven record electricity demand there. Reuters reported that high temperatures in parts of Mexico reached 113F on Tuesday.

Context: Climate change is causing heat waves to be more intense, longer-lasting and more frequent, multiple studies show.

Morgues full and hospitals overwhelmed as India’s heatwave death toll hits 170

Euronews: Officials are investigating the deaths and how many were directly caused by the soaring temperatures. A searing heatwave has swept through two of the most populous states in India, hospitalising hundreds and killing nearly 170 people.

Temperatures hit 43.5 degrees Celsius in some areas earlier this month, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). Hospitals are overwhelmed and morgues filled to capacity, AP reports.

Texas’ record heat wave enters 3rd week as storms slam southern U.S.

Axios: State of play: The severe storms saw an estimated 168,000 customers lose power in Georgia, along with some 132,000 others in both Kentucky and Tennessee and a further 126,000 in Arkansas early Monday, while a series of suspected tornadoes late Sunday damaged property in Indiana and killed a person in the state’s Martin County.

  • Thunderstorms caused flight delays in major transport hubs Sunday in New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, Cincinatti, Philadelphia and Detroit, while flights to and from D.C.-area airports were suspended in the evening due to an air traffic control issue before the FAA switched to a “backup facility,” per the Washington Post.
  • The National Weather Service warned as thunderstorms lashed Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and parts of the Ohio Valley that “strong to severe storms” would move southward through Alabama and Georgia.

Meanwhile, in Texas, where the record-breaking heat wave entered a third week, the NWS office in San Angelo noted that a wind gust of 64 mph was recorded over the western community of Ozona during a “dry microburst” in a thunderstorm — which typically occurs with very little precipitation at the surface.

The NWS said the life-threatening “oppressive” heat dome was producing “dangerous heat and humidity in Texas and spread into the lower Mississippi River Valley,” as new temperature records were set across the Lone Star State Sunday.

An ‘extreme’ heatwave has hit the seas around the uk and ireland

Bangor: One of the most severe marine heatwaves on the planet is taking place in the shallow seas around the UK and Ireland. That’s according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has labelled this a “Category 4” heatwave. Rarely used outside of the tropics, a cat 4 heatwave means “extreme” heat.

Marine heatwaves are classified as “prolonged periods of anomalously high sea surface temperature”, when compared to the long-term average for that time of year. And thanks to measurements made by satellites orbiting the earth we know that, in some areas around the UK, surface water temperatures are 4°C to 5°C above normal for mid June.

This is extremely unusual: buoys around Ireland and the UK have been recording sea surface temperature for over 20 years, and in that time it has never been this hot this early in the summer.

The heatwave is strongest in the northern North Sea, northwest of Ireland, and the Celtic Sea between Cornwall and southern Ireland. However, in other areas, such as the southern North Sea, the English Channel and the southern Irish Sea, the surface temperatures are only a degree or so above normal.

The two regions are very different in oceanographic terms. The latter areas tend to be shallower (30-40 metres) with stronger tidal currents and so the water remains well mixed from the surface to the sea bed, all year around. In contrast, the regions where the heatwave is strongest are deeper (80-100 metres) with weaker tidal currents. As the mixing is weaker these seas “stratify” each summer, with a layer of warmer water overlying the cooler deeper layer.

In these seasonally stratifying regions the heat from the sun only warms the relatively shallow surface layer, while in the mixed regions the sun’s impact is diluted as its heat is mixed through the ocean from seabed to surface.

Continue reading at Bangor University.

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