A NASA map of the world indicating heatwaves during July 2023
23 Jul 2023

WHO 2023: Brace for more heat waves and other severe weather events

One-third of Americans were affected by extreme weather last week when as a prolonged heat wave persisted. In Europe, Greece is expecting even more heat, as forest fires in several popular tourist destinations are raging. 

In the South and Southwest, damaging thunderstorms hit the Central United States, and another bout of heavy rainstorms threatened to trigger more flooding in parts of the East Coast, according to the Weather Network. 

Greece is bracing for more intense heat with meteorologists warning that temperatures could climb as high as 45C (113F) according to the BBC.  

People have been advised to stay home, and tourist sites - including Athens' ancient Acropolis - were  reportedly shut during the hottest parts of the weekend. 

It could turn into Greece's hottest July weekend in 50 years, one of the country's top meteorologists says: 

"This weekend risks being the hottest registered in July in the past 50 years," said Panagiotis Giannopoulos, a meteorologist with state broadcaster ERT, quoted by AFP news agency.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last week that 2023 will likely be the hottest year on record, and to expect more "killed heat waves" bringing an increased risk of deaths due to the extreme weather.

"Temperatures in North America, Asia, and across North Africa and the Mediterranean will be above 40 C for a prolonged number of days this week as the heat wave intensifies," the WMO said.

While most of the focus in reports have been on on daytime maximum temperatures, the WMO says that that "the overnight temperatures have the biggest health risks, especially for vulnerable populations" when temperatures do not significantly drop at night, there is simply no relief for people who lack AC or other means of cooling down. 

The heatwaves that currently attributed to climate change are also amplified by the naturally occurring El Niño weather phenomenon.

However,  the current El Niño only started a few months ago and is still considered weak to moderate: The peak is not expected to come until winter.

Preliminary figures suggest the global average temperature last month set a new June record, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

 

Photo Credit: A NASA map of the world indicating heatwaves during July 2023