Hundreds of millions of people across the United States, Europe and Central Asia endured heat waves and record-setting temperatures starting July 19.
Things were already hot here in Arizona and the Southwest, but high pressure domes, which turn up the heat, covered much of the country, putting more than 100 million Americans under EXCESSIVE heat warnings or heat advisories. Triple-digit high temperatures also hit the Midwest all the way to the East Coast.
In Europe, temps also soared above 100° F. In fact, Coningsby, England, hit 104.5°, setting the all-time high record for the UK! Tragically, more than 2,000 people died from the heat in Spain and Portugal. In France, the record heat has led to fast-spreading wildfires, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
Heat Wave Facts
- • 100 million Americans affected
- • Also hit Europe & Central Asia
- • Likely connected by the jet stream
During this time, Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan also suffered from triple-digit temps, using record amounts of water and electricity to try to keep cool.
Climate scientists say these heat waves appear to be connected by the jet stream, an airflow pattern that travels west to east in the northern hemisphere. They say computer models indicate that climate change is altering the shape of the jet stream and parking high pressure domes over areas for longer periods. Widespread hot, dry weather like this could hurt food production, affecting even larger portions of the world’s population!
While many different factors can lead to heat waves in an area, scientists are using powerful computers to determine how much human activity like burning fossil fuels may be changing our jet stream patterns.
As of press time, a heat wave in the U.S. was hitting California, the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Montana. These weather conditions worsen the wildfire season. And the Oak Fire near picture-perfect Yosemite National Park is intense and fast-growing, forcing more than 6,000 to evacuate areas around the Sierra National Forest.