Canada’s heat dome
In late June, western Canada was caught under a “heat dome”, a phenomenon causing scorching temperatures when hot air is trapped by high pressure fronts, and heats up even more as it is pushed back down. The country broke its record high temperature several times, finally capping at 49.6 degrees Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit) in the village of Lytton on June 30. The US states of Washington and Oregon were also affected. The exact human toll is not yet known but amounts to at least several hundred deaths. A study by a group of leading climate scientists found that the weather conditions would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change.
Deadly deluge in China
As the flood water receded in Europe, catastrophic flooding hit China this month killing at least 51 people. An unprecedented downpour dumped a year’s worth of rain in just three days on the city of Zhengzhou, instantly overwhelming drains and sending torrents of muddy water through streets, road tunnels and the subway system. The troubles are far from over as China yesterday had to evacuate tens of thousands as floods submerged swathes of central China — while an approaching typhoon threatened to dump more rain on the stricken area. In the worst-hit city of Zhengzhou, firefighters yesterday continued to pump muddy water from tunnels, including from a subway where at least a dozen people drowned inside a train earlier in the week as a year’s worth of rainfall fell in just three days.
Deadly floods in Europe
In mid-July western Europe was hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left at least 209 people dead in Germany and Belgium, as well as dozens missing. The flooding also caused damage in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Up to two months’ worth of rainfall came down in two days in some parts of the region, waterlogging soil that was already near saturation.
Landslides kill 36 in India
Thirty-six people have been killed in landslides caused by monsoon rains in India, authorities said yesterday. As many as 40 other people were missing after the three separate landslides on Thursday in the Raigad district of the western state of Maharashtra. The Navy and Air Force meanwhile joined rescue efforts after the heavy rains caused floods that left thousands stranded. Rescue efforts were being hampered by landslides blocking roads, including the main highway between Mumbai and Goa. India’s meteorological department has issued red alerts for several regions in the state, indicating that heavy rainfall will continue for the next few days. Climate change is making India’s monsoons stronger, according to a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) published in April.
California’s raging wildfires
Triggered by an alarming drought, the wildfire season is just starting in the American West where thousands of firefighters are already dealing with 80 large blazes. By the beginning of the week the fires had ravaged more than 4,700 square kilometres (1,800 square miles) of vegetation. The most spectacular blaze is the “Bootleg Fire” in Oregon, which in the space of two weeks has burned the equivalent of the city of Los Angeles in vegetation and forests. In neighbouring California, several villages were evacuated in the face of the advancing “Dixie Fire”, which is suspected to have been caused by a tree falling on power cables.