Summer heatwave engulfs Middle East

Temperatures have soared past 50C in some countries recently and caused scores of deaths in Egypt.

Heatwave in Egypt
In Egypt's capital, Cairo, temperatures reached 42C on Sunday [EPA]

Summer heat is the norm in the Middle East, where the climate is largely that of a sub-tropical desert. Yet, even by the standards of the region, this summer is proving to be exceptionally hot and, for some, humid.

Egypt seems to have been particularly hard-hit. At least 93 deaths have been reported in the country due to the heat, with most victims being elderly.

In the country’s capital, Cairo, temperatures reached 42C on Sunday, 7C above average. During August temperatures have reached or exceeded the monthly average on all but one day. In the south of the country conditions have been even worse.

Aswan, on the banks of the Nile, has experienced temperatures at least 3C above average throughout the month, with peak temperatures of 47C.

Neighbouring Israel’s Health Ministry has urged the public to drink plenty of water. Jerusalem saw temperatures of 38C on Sunday, 7C above average. High humidity levels have made the heat even more uncomfortable.

In Syria, the heatwave has produced frequent temperatures in excess of 40C and dust storms have made conditions even more unbearable.

High humidity


It is a similar situation here in Qatar. Humidity levels usually rise from July onwards, as light winds from the Gulf prevail.

Most years there are occasional breaks from this pattern as drier air from the desert of Saudi Arabia encroaches. But this year the high humidity has been constant, and temperatures have been significantly above average.

Temperatures in Doha in July reached 48.2C, 6C above average, and significantly higher than any recent years. Outside the city, temperatures of 50C have been reported.

In Iraq, the government has been forced to declare national holidays during periods when temperatures in major cities such as Baghdad and Basrah have reached 50C.

In the Gulf regions of Iraq and neighbouring Iran, there have been days when the combination of heat and humidity, has made it feel around 70C.

Unfortunately there is every reason to believe that the warmer than usual weather will continue, as the current El Nino weather pattern, which is pushing warm surface water temperatures westwards towards the region, shows no sign of easing.

Source: Al Jazeera