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Heat wave

Climate Change, International

European heat wave sees Germany put speed limits on autobahn

Large parts of western and central Europe sweated under blazing temperatures on June 26, with authorities in one German region imposing temporary speed limits on some stretches of the autobahn, the federal controlled-access higyway system designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, as a precaution against heat damage.

Authorities have warned that temperatures could top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in parts of the continent over the coming days as a plume of dry, hot air moves north from Africa.

The transport ministry in Germany’s eastern Saxony-Anhalt state said it has imposed speed limits of 100 kmph or 120 kmph on several short stretches of the highway until further notice. Those stretches usually have no speed limit.

On the evening of June 25, German railway operator Deutsche Bahn called rescue services to Duesseldorf Airport station as a precaution because two trains’ air conditioning systems weren’t working properly, but neither had to be evacuated.

In Paris, authorities banned older cars from the city for the day as a heat wave aggravates the city’s pollution.

Regional authorities estimate these measures affect nearly 60% of vehicles circulating in the Paris region, including many delivery trucks and older cars with higher emissions than newer models. Violators face fines.

Around France, some schools have been closed because of the high temperatures, which are expected to go up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) in the Paris area later this week and bake much of the country, from the Pyrenees in the southwest to the German border in the northeast.

Such temperatures are rare in France, where most homes and many buildings do not have air conditioning.

French charities and local officials are providing extra help for the elderly, the homeless and the sick this week, remembering that some 15,000 people, many of them elderly, died in France during a 2003 heat wave.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe cited the heat wave as evidence of climate destabilization and vowed to step up the government’s fight against climate change.

About half of Spain’s provinces are on alert for high temperatures, which are expected to rise as the weekend approaches.

The northeastern city of Zaragoza was forecast to be the hottest on Wednesday at 39 degrees Celsius, building to 44 degrees Celsius on Saturday, according to the government weather agency AEMET.

In southwestern Europe, however, some people had other reasons to complain during their summer vacation- the Portuguese capital Lisbon, on Europe’s Atlantic coast, awoke cloudy and wet on Wednesday.                           AP



This year, India reeled under a prolonged spell of heat wave with a total of 32 consecutive days. A similar record was set in the year 1988, when heat wave prevailed over the Indian mainland for a total of 33 days at a stretch after 3 consecutive years of droughts in 1985, 1986 and 1987. Extreme heat was also observed in the year 2015, which turned out to be a drought year.

This year, the state of Bihar has already witnessed many deaths related to heat wave conditions. The current year is turning out to be extremely hot for many places. On June 15, Gaya in Bihar recorded 45.6°C as the day temperature, which was 8 degrees above normal. On the same day, Patna also saw the maximum soar to 45.8°C. While the national capital Delhi broke all records with Safdurjung Observatory recording a whopping 48°C. The maximums in stations like Churu, Phalodi and Ganganagar also exceeded the 50 degrees Celcius mark multiple times.

This has been a rather drier June in the country. Only Cyclone Vayu has led to a few rains over some regions. Even the national capital of Delhi observed a 20 day long stretch (from May 26 to June 15) of 40-plus temperatures, which is very unusual for the city. Chandrapur in Maharashtra also witnessed 45-plus temperatures for at least 30 days on a stretch, barring a few days (when temperatures were still above 40-degrees). Phalodi in Rajasthan observed 40-above temperatures for almost 40 days. Severe heat wave conditions are prevailing over Jaisalmer and Phalodi which haven’t observed any rains in the last 3 weeks now. Severe heat wave is going on over Banda of Uttar Pradesh as well which soared above 49°C on multiple days.

Heat Wave Timeline

The southern parts of the country like Telangana, North Interior Karnataka and Marathwada are usually the first to experience heat. Here, peaking temperatures set in as early as the end of March.

This is then followed by Central India, East and then North India which starts experiencing heat by the second half of April.

Telangana, North Interior Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh comprise of the most heat wave prone pockets in the country.

On the other hand, Coastal India, Northeast India and hills are mostly spared from extreme heat.

The reason behind Heat Wave

Whenever there is any heat build-up over an area in the pre-Monsoon season of March, April and May, it is succeeded by some thunderstorm activity, which normalizes the temperatures. But, when the pre-Monsoon rains are absent from an area, for days together, heat build-up takes place.

Also, as soon as the Monsoon mitigation takes place in the form of rains starting from South India and then reaching above North, the rising temperatures get arrested.

And this is exactly how the weather has mostly panned out in the country so far.

Relief from the heat

Heat wave has already abated states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab because of the ongoing weather activities there.

Bihar and its adjoining areas are also experiencing some weather activities now. Some more rain and thundershowers are being expected in Bihar in view of the changing weather. Also, a changed wind profile will lead to more rains in the area in the next two to three days. A weather system is also building up in the Bay of Bengal.

Monsoon usually makes an appearance in Bihar on June 10. It’s already been running quite late till now and may make an appearance in the next week or so.

Image Credits – DW 

Any information taken from here should be credited to Skymet Weather