Interesting Facts about Heat Waves

August 27, 2012 | Environment

2003 Heat wave in Europe killed over 35,000 people (Source: Wikipedia)

Heat waves and global warming proved to be the major culprits of the recent wildfires. This was often the result of warm air getting stuck in mid-air instead of going through the upper layer of the atmosphere.

Lack of precipitation, the absence of convection clouds, and the constant build up of hot air culminates into a phenomenon we know as “heat waves.” It usually happens during summer when high pressures in the jet stream suppress the warm air in the lower atmosphere.

Heat wave is a natural occurrence due to seasonal changes and weather disturbances. It has also been the cause of some incidences of wildfires in many parts of the world. What made the Colorado wildfire a worldwide phenomenon is the extent to which several states were devastated, as well as the predisposing factors that gave heat waves a profound impact to the onset of the wildfires. The NASA images on the affected areas also links the series of incidents to the effects of global warming.

Heat waves in America -2012

Heat started in America during the first five months of the year, not even including August, which was usually the hottest month of the year. Just after the storms last June, temperature wentup to 38 Celsius in the south.

In Atlanta, the temperature rose up to 41 Celsius. South and North Carolina, Columbia and Tennessee were included in over a couple of dozen of cities that have set the record of having high temperatures last June. The National Weather Service recorded that Nashville’s temperature rose up to 40 Celsius during the same month.

As July came in, there were a total of 46 reported deaths all over the country caused by heat wave. In Ohio, three elderly people who were all suffering from heart disease were found dead inside their houses. According to Dr. Jeff Lee, the stress caused by the heat wave triggered their deaths.

Due to the recent storms that hit the country, there were power outages in some of the cities, which caused more problems. In most houses, there are no cooling systems, which according to Dr. Lee could have helped the two elderly to survive. Most victims range from ages 30 to 100. Some victims though are children who were playing outside in a scorching heat.

The other three cases of deaths due to heat wave were in Wisconsin and another two came from Tennessee. Some other areas affected include Fort Wayne, central Arkansas and Indianapolis.


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Heat Waves in Europe – 2012

Aside from America, some parts of Europe are also experiencing scorching heat as August came. The wind that came from Sahara Desert was blamed for the extreme heat in Ukraine and Spain during the second week of August.

In Spain, the hottest temperature reported as of the third week of August is as high as 46 degrees Celsius. Some of the other hottest cities include Alcoi, Toledo, Vitoria, Pamplona, and Salamanca. Their temperature ranges from 40 – 44 degrees Celsius.

Germany, London, UK and France are also alerted about heat wave’s health risks. As a result of the intense heat, European beaches are full of people hoping that the waters could at least normalize their body temperature. Temperature rose up to 40 Celsius in some parts of the continent causing forest fires. As of August, there are no reported deaths caused by heat wave.

Heat Waves in Russia – 2010

One of the most unusual heat waves happened in Russia in the year 2010. Temperatures reached as high as 44 degrees Celsius causing massive forest fires, droughts, and overheating. Many have died of heatstroke and there had been reports of people choosing to drown in pools and rivers than to die of extreme heat.

The cause was attributed to the high pressure air blocking the warm air in the middle layer of the atmosphere, causing heat to build up. Unlike the Colorado heat waves, it has no clear indication to be a direct result of global warming since the presence of greenhouse gases in the Northern Russia is not very significant. Climate change, however, may have triggered such anomaly. More than 56,000 people died over the course of the heat wave attacks.

What to do during heat waves?

  • It is recommended to drink plenty of water during hot weather preferably cool water (not cold).
  • Some people also rub ice at the back of their neck for it can cool down body temperature.
  • Taking a shower or bath can also help in releasing body heat.
  • Air conditioning is important as well. In some places though, people go to malls and other buildings with air conditioning.
  • You must wear loose clothes and lessen your physical activity during these seasons when heat wave strikes your area.

Aside from the tips mentioned, a person must also know the signs of heat stroke to prevent it from causing further harm. Some of the signs include rapid heart rates, headache and dry skin.

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