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Bermuda eyes a weak Colin; new extreme heat record for Belarus

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:19 PM GMT on August 07, 2010

Tropical Storm Colin is taking aim at Bermuda, and could bring tropical storm force winds to the island tonight. Colin continues to pass through an unfavorable environment for development, as the storm is being affected by dry being pumped in from an upper-level low pressure system to the west. Wind shear has dropped to about 10 knots, but Colin has not yet been able to take advantage of the low shear. Recent satellite imagery shows that Colin is a disorganized system, with limited heavy thunderstorm activity. What few intense thunderstorms Colin has have been pushed over to the east side of the storm by yesterday's high wind shear, and the rains from these thunderstorms can be seen approaching Bermuda on Bermuda radar.

Forecast for Colin
The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will remain low to moderate today as Colin makes its closest pass by Bermuda. This may allow the storm to intensify to a 50 mph tropical storm before it moves past Bermuda early Sunday morning. The shear will increase again on Sunday as Colin heads out to sea, and it is unlikely that the storm will ever attain hurricane status.

Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Colin.

A tropical wave (Invest 93) about 850 miles west of the Cape Verdes Islands off the coast of Africa is moving northwest at 10 mph. Wind shear is a moderate 10 knots, and is expected to stay in the moderate range the next five days. NHC is giving a 40% chance of this disturbance developing into a tropical depression by Monday morning. The GFS model shows some weak development of 93L occurring early next week. This storm will probably only be a concern to shipping interests. There are no other areas of concern the models are showing for the next seven days.

Belarus records its hottest temperature in history
The European nation of Belarus, on the western border of Russia, recorded its hottest temperature in history yesterday, August 6, when the mercury hit 38.7°C (101.7°F) in Gorky. The previous record was 38.0°C (100.4°F) set at Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946.

The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 chokes Moscow with smoke for a second day
Smoke from wildfires caused by the worst heat wave in Russia's history have choked Moscow for a second straight day today, bringing air pollution levels to six times the safe mark and forcing cancellation of dozens of flights. Visibilities dropped as low as 325 meters at Moscow's airport today, as temperatures hit 97°F (36°C). The past 25 days in a row have exceeded 30°C (86°F) in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight--the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the majority of the coming week. As I reported in yesterday's post, the number of deaths in Moscow in July 2010 was about 5,000 more than in July 2009, suggesting that the heat wave has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Moscow alone. I would expect that by the time the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is over, the number of premature deaths caused by the heat wave will approach or exceed the 40,000 who died in the 2003 European Heat Wave. As seen in Figure 2, the Russian heat wave of this year is more intense and affects a wider region than the great 2003 heat wave, though the population affected by the two heat waves is probably similar.

Figure 2. A comparison of temperature anomalies for August 2003, the peak of the great European heat wave of that year (left), with July temperature anomalies from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 (right). This year's heat wave in Russia is more intense and covers a wider area of Europe than the 2003 heat wave. The 2003 heat wave caused approximately 40,000 premature deaths. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Belarus' new all-time extreme heat record gives the year 2010 the most national extreme heat records for a single year--seventeen. These nations comprise 19% of the total land area of Earth. This is the largest area of Earth's surface to experience all-time record high temperatures in any single year in the historical record. Looking back at the past decade, which was the hottest decade in the historical record, Seventy-five countries set extreme hottest temperature records (33% of all countries.) For comparison, fifteen countries set extreme coldest temperature records over the past ten years (6% of all countries). My source for extreme weather records is the excellent book Extreme Weather by Chris Burt. His new updates (not yet published) remove a number of old disputed records.

Keep in mind that the matter of determining extreme records is very difficult, and it is often a judgment call as to whether an old record is reliable or not. For example, one of 2007's fifteen extreme hottest temperature records is for the U.S.--the 129°F recorded at Death Valley that year. Most weather record books list 1913 as the year the hottest temperature in the U.S. occurred, when Greenland Ranch in Death Valley hit 134°F. However, as explained in a recent Weatherwise article, that record is questionable, since it occurred during a sandstorm when hot sand may have wedged against the thermometer, artificially inflating the temperature. Mr. Burt's list of 225 countries with extreme heat records includes islands that are not independent countries, such as Puerto Rico and Greenland. I thank Mr. Burt and weather record researchers Maximiliano Herrera and Howard Rainford for their assistance identifying this year's new extreme temperature records.

Earth has now seen four consecutive months with its warmest temperature on record, and the first half of 2010 was the warmest such 6-month period in the planet's history. It is not a surprise that many all-time extreme heat records are being shattered when the planet as a whole is so warm. Global warming "loads the dice" to favor extreme heat events unprecedented in recorded history.

National heat records set in 2010
Belarus, on the western border of Russia, recorded its hottest temperature in history on Saturday, August 7, when the mercury hit 38.9°C (102°F) in Gomel. This broke the all-time record for extreme heat set just one day before, the 38.7°C (101.7°F) recorded in Gorky. Prior to 2010, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Belarus was the 38.0°C (100.4°F) in Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946.

Ukraine tied its record for hottest temperature in its history when the mercury hit 41.3°C (106.3°F) at Lukhansk on August 1, 2010. Ukraine also reached 41.3°C on July 20 and 21, 2007, at Voznesensk.

Cyprus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 1, 2010 when the mercury hit 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Lefconica. The old record for Cyprus was 44.4°C (111.9°F) at Lefkosia in August 1956. An older record of 46.6°C from July 1888 was reported from Nicosia, but is of questionable reliability.

Finland recorded its hottest temperature on July 29, 2010, when the mercury hit 99°F (37.2°C) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jyvaskyla on July 9, 1914.

Qatar had its hottest temperature in history on July 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 50.4°C (122.7°F) at Doha Airport.

Russia had its hottest temperature in history on July 11, when the mercury rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F) in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) was the 43.8°C (110.8°F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The remarkable heat in Russia this year has not been limited just to the European portion of the country--the Asian portion of Russia also recorded its hottest temperature in history this year, a 42.7°C (108.9°F) reading at Kara, in the Chita Republic on June 24. The 42.3°C (108.1°F) reading on June 25 at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China, also beat the old record for the Asian portion of Russia. The previous record for the Asian portion of Russia was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Aksha on July 21, 2004.

Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history on June 25 when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

Niger tied its record for hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.1°C (116.8°F) at Bilma. That record stood for just one day, as Bilma broke the record again on June 23, when the mercury topped out at 48.2°C (118.8°F). The previous record was 47.1°C on May 24, 1998, also at Bilma.

Saudi Arabia had its hottest temperature ever on June 22, 2010, with a reading of 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F), at Abqaiq, date unknown. The record heat was accompanied by a sandstorm, which caused eight power plants to go offline, resulting in blackouts to several Saudi cities.

Chad had its hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) at Faya. The previous record was 47.4°C (117.3°F) at Faya on June 3 and June 9, 1961.

Kuwait recorded its hottest temperature in history on June 15 in Abdaly, according to the Kuwait Met office. The mercury hit 52.6°C (126.7°F). Kuwait's previous all-time hottest temperature was 51.9°C (125.4°F), on July 27,2007, at Abdaly. Temperatures reached 51°C (123.8°F) in the capital of Kuwait City on June 15, 2010.

Iraq had its hottest day in history on June 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Basra. Iraq's previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F) set August 8, 1937, in Ash Shu'aybah.

Pakistan had its hottest temperature in history on May 26, when the mercury hit an astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) at the town of MohenjuDaro, according to the Pakistani Meteorological Department. While this temperature reading must be reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for authenticity, not only is the 128.3°F reading the hottest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan, it is the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on the continent of Asia.

Myanmar (Burma) had its hottest temperature in its recorded history on May 12, when the mercury hit 47°C (116.6°F) in Myinmu, according to the Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology. Myanmar's previous hottest temperature was 45.8°C (114.4°F) at Minbu, Magwe division on May 9, 1998. According to Chris Burt, author of the authoritative weather records book Extreme Weather, the 47°C measured this year is the hottest temperature in Southeast Asia history.

Ascention Island (St. Helena, a U.K. Territory) had its hottest temperature in history on March 25, 2010, when the mercury hit 34.9°C (94.8°C) at Georgetown. The previous record was 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Georgetown in April 2003, exact day unknown.

The Solomon Islands had their hottest temperature in history on February 1, 2010, when the mercury hit 36.1°C (97°F) at Lata Nendo (Ndeni). The previous record for Solomon Islands was 35.6°C (96.0°F) at Honaiara, date unknown.

Colombia had its hottest temperature in history on January 24, 2010, when Puerto Salgar hit 42.3°C (108°F). The previous record was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at El Salto in March 1988 (exact day unknown).

National cold records set in 2010
One nation has set a record for its coldest temperature in history in 2010. Guinea had its coldest temperature in history in January 9, 2010, when the mercury hit 1.4°C (34.5°F) at Mali-ville in the Labe region.

Next post
I'll have an update Sunday. There are many important weather stories I've neglected to cover of late, such as the floods in Pakistan, which I hope to talk about in the coming week.

Jeff Masters
heavy smog from forest fires near Moscow
heavy smog from forest fires near Moscow

Heat Hurricane

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.