1A train derails in Southern California after the tracks buckle from extreme heat
In June 2017, a cargo train derailment at the southern tip of Tulare County was caused by "extreme heat buckling the track," according to a California State official. Union Pacific reported 19 cars derailed along Highway 99 between Delano and Earlimart. No one was hurt. A refrigerated boxcar leaked about 30 gallons of fuel, but none reached the nearby canal or impacted wildlife.
2Planes have been grounded in the southwestern U.S. due to extreme heat
Sweltering temperatures and flight cancellations were an issue for some air travelers going through Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix in June 2017.
Extreme heat creates changes in the air density that make it harder for airplanes to take off. Pilots must use more thrust or impose weight restrictions, such as flying with less cargo.
American Airlines canceled 43 of its flights in and out of Phoenix. The cancellations were for operations by smaller regional jets that have lower maximum operating temperatures than full-size airliners.—those planes can't operate safely when it's 118 degrees or higher.
3Meteorologists have run out of colors to map extreme heat
Meteorologists ran out of colors to indicate extreme temperatures in southwestern regions of the U.S. in June 2017.
In a projection of the Phoenix metropolitan area by WeatherBELL Analytics, the hottest temperature on the spectrum is oddly denoted by a cool green. But why?
Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa, explains: “All of the orange and red shades are used. The next stage of heat, depicted by what I would call violet colors, is blown right through on this temperature map. I guess finally you get so hot you turn green."
4The heat index in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was 178 degrees
The highest temperature ever recorded was 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California. But the worst heat could be in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change in 2015.
Right now, typical summer days in the city crest at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humid air blowing off the coast of the Persian Gulf can make daytime activities difficult without the aid of air conditioning.
Dhahran recently had the highest ever maximum "wet-bulb temperature" reported in the study, at 91.94 degrees Fahrenheit. (If the wet-bulb reading gets above 95 degrees, the human body can no longer cool itself off.)
Dhahran also holds the unofficial record for the highest heat index ever recorded. In July 2003, the temperature reached 108 degrees with a dew point of 95, making the heat index—which is what it "feels like" outside in the shade—178 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes!
5Extreme heat "tourists" crowd Death Valley
With extreme heat already hitting the U.S. in 2017, tourists are flocking to—Death Valley?
The thermometer outside the park's Furnace Creek Visitor Center hit a scorching 132 degrees and went viral on social media by tourists who braved the unrelenting heat just for the perfect photo. National Park spokeswoman Abby Wines said that ground temperatures were even hotter—200 degrees!
A woman sustained third-degree burns on her feet walking a half mile on the desert sand barefoot, after losing her sandals. If you chose to travel to the area this summer, be careful out there!
6A city in Iran had a heat index of 165 degrees
In 2015, temperatures in Iran soared as the heat index (a humidity gauge that estimates what it feels like outside) hit an astonishing 165 degrees Fahrenheit due to a "heat dome," a high-pressure ridge passing over the region. Temperatures taken in the city of Bandar Mahshahr were among the highest ever recorded.
If you wonder what that kind of heat feels like, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang posted a first-person account from a reader who lived through Saudi Arabia's 178-degree day in 2003: “When the winds come off the Persian Gulf you just can't imagine how awful it gets. You'd walk outside, and it felt immediately like someone pressed a hot wet towel, like you sometimes get on airplanes, over your entire head. I wear glasses, and they'd immediately fog up. You sweat instantly.”
7London's Tube is heating the earth around it
Is the earth around London's subway system heating up?
In 1900, the ambient heat surrounding the tunnels (which are mostly clay) was around 14°C. During summers back then, the tunnels were indeed colder than the air above.
A hundred years later, it's an altogether different story—the tunnels are noticeably warmer. The heat down below can be anywhere between 20°C and 25°C. The vast majority (89%) of it comes from the train itself (the friction during braking is the big one), 7% from passengers, and 4% from “tunnel support systems."
83 out of 4 people could die from extreme heat by 2100
And now for something alarming regarding the not too distant future—without major reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, up to three in four people will face the threat of dying from heat by 2100, according to a Nature Climate Change report. Even with reductions, one in two people at the end of the century will likely face at least 20 days when extreme heat can kill. In other words, it may already be too late to reverse the effects of climate change.