HDWN #60

July 14, 2023
3-5 minutes

Global Heatwaves

Across the globe, the weeks of late July have brought record-breaking heat waves that have caused immense damage and loss of life.

The three hottest days ever recorded in Europe occurred between July 3rd and July 10th of 2023. In the southern nations, such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy, daily maximum temperatures regularly exceeded 40°C. Further north, such as in France, Germany, Belgium, the UK, and Austria, temperatures were sustained in the mid-thirties. These weather patterns have triggered a heat dome, exacerbating the dry and hot conditions.

North America experienced similarly high temperatures. Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico encountered particularly pressing conditions, with a high of 49°C being recorded in Phoenix, Arizona. Canada also saw record-breaking temperatures for the arctic circle at 36.7°C.

In the Antarctic, record-low levels of ice were recorded as a result of global heat. The amount of ice loss this year in Antarctica amounts to an area the size of Mexico.

These heatwaves have potentially catastrophic effects, jeopardizing wildlife, health, public, safety, and more.

Heavy Rains in China

China's southwestern regions have been hit by heavy rains, resulting in the loss of fifteen lives and the disappearance of four others, according to information from the official China News Agency. Faced with this situation, President Xi Jinping has issued clear directives to the authorities to give the highest priority to the safety of people and property.

The damage caused by the heavy rainfall is significant, as witnessed by the partial collapse of a railway bridge in Chongqing, a densely populated municipality-province of 31 million people. The neighboring province of Sichuan was also affected, with more than 460,000 people affected by the bad weather over the course of the week.

Around 85,000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the torrential rains. Record rainfall was recorded, with levels reaching 269 mm in 24 hours in Guzhang, Hunan region, and 316 mm in Baojing. These extreme weather conditions caused flooding in several areas.


Poly storm in the Netherlands

Storm Poly hit the Netherlands on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 with unprecedented violence, causing the death of one person in Haarlem near Amsterdam.

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, one of Europe's main air hubs, was forced to cancel 400 flights due to the high winds and torrential rain caused by storm Poly, according to AFP. In addition, Eurostar trains linking Amsterdam to London and high-speed trains serving Cologne and Hamburg were canceled by the Dutch rail company NS.

Devastating winds of up to 146 km/h swept across the low-lying North Sea coast, uprooting trees and prompting authorities to advise people to stay indoors. The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) issued a maximum level alert, known as a "code red", for four regions in the north of the country. At the port of IJmuiden in North Holland, winds of force 11 on the Beaufort scale were recorded, with a gust reaching 145 km/h, according to KNMI data.

The wind gusts recorded during this storm were the most intense ever observed in the Netherlands in summer.


Heavy Rains in Japan

Starting on July 1st, unusually heavy rains poured across Japan, most notably hitting the southwestern part of Honshu Island and Kyushu Island. The rains are reported to have set a record for the heaviest rain experienced in the region.

The rainy season has already caused immense damage throughout the region, damaging and flooding more than 270 houses, submersing seven vehicles, leading to thousands of power outages, triggering an evacuation order for 1.7 million people, rendering three people dead, and causing the disappearance of at least six more.

Similarly, the Kiyama and Iwato rivers were confirmed to have overflowed, collapsing a large bridge. Several railroads were also damaged in the rains, rendering several transportation routes unusable.

The national weather agency is requesting that people remain cautious as landslides and flooding still remain possibilities.

Flooding in New York

Heavy rainfall in Hudson Valley, New York, starting in the evening of Sunday, July 9, and lasting well into Monday, July 10, has been described by meteorologists as a “once-in-1,000-year rainfall event”. Areas in Orange and Rockland County were pounded with up to 20 centimeters of rain, amounting to a month's worth of rainfall in just a few hours. The high levels of rainfall have decimated the region, bringing intense flash flooding, racking up tens of millions of dollars in damages and killing at least one person.

Though much of the Northeast US has also been hit with heavy storms, New York has felt the brunt of it. Downpours have severely impacted transportation, completely destroying roads in some places, stranding motorcyclists, and leading to thousands of flight and train cancellations. 10,000 residents in Orange County alone have also been left without power. On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency for Orange County, and later extended it West all the way to Ontario County.

The area's inadequate infrastructure and drainage system, which had previously been exposed by Hurricane Ida in 2017, also contributed to the region's vulnerability to flooding.

ⓒ Seth Harrison/The Journal News/USA Today

Cold Front and Snow in South Africa

A cold front has swept across South Africa in the past week, bringing intermittent rainfall, strong winds, and temperatures dropping into the negatives. On Monday, July 10, some areas, including the capital Johannesburg, experienced snowfall, a phenomenon very uncommon for the area. Snow has not been seen in Johannesburg since 2012.

Though the colder temperatures and conditions are not inherently dangerous by objective standards, South Africa is relatively unequipped to handle snow, ice, and colder weather.

Low temperatures threaten to create icy conditions on roads and pavements, endangering the safety of motorists who do not normally have to be mindful of such.

Residents of White City in Soweto have reported power outages, rendering them unable to use heating equipment.

Flooding in Zaragoza

Zaragoza, the capital of the Aragón Region of Spain, was pelted with a series of storms on July 6th of 2023. Officials report that 54 millimeters of rain fell over the course of just a few hours, leading to mass flooding across the region — that reached nearly 2 meters in some areas. Some areas also were met with hail.

Much of the infrastructure of the area, such as buildings, railways, and roads was severely damaged by the flooding. Others still, were met with power outages. Hail storms also damaged much produce across the area, placing a financial strain on the agriculture industry.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported during the window of the floods, however, firefighters were called to rescue about 12 people left stranded or trapped by the flooding.

ⓒ Pixabay/LucyKaef