GENEVA - The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports the planet Earth is experiencing another exceptionally warm year with record-breaking temperatures occurring in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States.
At least 60 people have been killed in the devastating forest fires in central Portugal. The World Meteorological Organization says one of the factors contributing to these run-away wildfires are very high temperatures that have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.
Extremely high temperatures also have been recorded in Spain and in France, which issued an Amber alert, the second highest alert level on Tuesday. WMO reports near record heat is also being reported in California and in the Nevada deserts.
Meteorologists report North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing extremely hot weather with temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius. But WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis says the hottest place on Earth appears to be the town of Turbat in southwestern Pakistan, which reported a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius in May.
“It seems like this is a new temperature record for Asia. If it is verified, it will equal a record ... which was set in Kuwait last July. So, we will now set up an investigation committee to see if that indeed is a new temperature record for the region,” Nullis said.
WMO Senior Scientist Omar Baddour says the world heat record of 56 degrees Celsius was recorded in Death Valley in the United States in 1913.
“It is very difficult to break a world record because it is not easy to have all the conditions in terms of pressure, invasion of air together at one place. So, the concern now is we are close to cross that record. We are now 54. We are not that far.”
The WMO says it expects global heat waves will likely trigger more deadly wildfires. If necessary precautions are not taken, it warns many people will die from the heat, as happened in 2003, when heat waves across Europe killed 70,000 people.
Scientists predict climate change will cause heat waves to become more intense, more frequent and longer.