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Paula dying; Zambia records its hottest temperature in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:35 PM GMT on October 15, 2010

There's not much left of Tropical Depression Paula, which continues to weaken as wind shear of 35 - 40 knots tears the storm apart. Satellite imagery shows Paula has the classic appearance of a storm experiencing high wind shear--a low-level center exposed to view, with all the heavy thunderstorm activity pushed to the northeast side by powerful upper-level winds from the southwest. Paula caused only minor flooding and very little damage in Mexico, Cuba, and the Florida Keys. Considering that most Category 2 hurricanes that pass through the Yucatan Channel end up getting their names retired, we got very fortunate with Paula. Havana, Cuba reported sustained winds of 41 mph, gusting to 54, at 7pm local time last night, and received heavy rain that caused moderate street flooding. The wind and rain knocked out power to most of the city and felled over 400 trees. Some isolated heavy rains affected the Florida Keys, with Key West picking up 1.40" inches of rain. Paula will bring some heavy rain showers to Andros Island in the Bahamas today, but the storm is not likely to cause any more flooding problems. High wind shear should be able to completely destroy Paula by Saturday morning.

Figure 1. Visible MODIS image from NASA's Terra satellite of Paula at 12:05pm EDT October 14, 2010, as Paula was approaching Havana, Cuba. Image credit: NASA.

New Caribbean disturbance
Heavy thunderstorm activity is currently limited over the southern Caribbean waters just north of Panama, but the latest 2am EDT (6Z) NOGAPS and GFS model runs continue to predict the formation of a tropical depression in the region 4 - 5 days from now. The storm is predicted to move northwest or northwards towards the Cayman Islands and Jamaica once it forms. The GFS model has been pretty reliable in forecasting the genesis of new tropical depressions this year, and the fact that we have two major models predicting the formation of a new Caribbean tropical depression next week is worth paying attention to.

Typhoon Megi
In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Megi has attained Category 2 strength, and is predicted to intensify into a 150 mph supertyphoon that will strike the northern Philippine Island of Luzon on Sunday night or Monday morning. If this forecast verifies, Megi would be the strongest tropical cyclone to strike land globally in 2010. The globe has had an unusually low number of landfalling major hurricanes this year. Only one Category 4 or stronger storm has hit land--Tropical Cyclone Tomas, which hit Fiji on March 15 as a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Tomas killed 3 people and did $45 million in damage to Fiji, and was the strongest storm to hit Fiji since Cyclone Bebe in 1972. The only other major tropical cyclones in 2010 to make landfall were Tropical Cyclone Oli, which passed through French Polynesia on February 5 as a Category 3 storm; Tropical Cyclone Rene, which hit Tonga in the South Pacific as a Category 3 storm on February 15; Typhoon Fanapi, which hit Taiwan on September 19 as a Category 3 storm; and Hurricane Karl, which hit Mexico near Verzcruz on September 17 as a Category 3 hurricane.

Zambia hits an all-time record 42.4°C (108.3°F)
Zambia recorded its hottest temperature in history Wednesday, October 13, when the mercury hit 42.4°C (108.3°F) in Mfuwe. The previous record was 42.3°C (108.1°F) set on November 17, 2005 in Mfuwe. Zambia is near the Equator, and the timing of the rainy season and dry season determines when all-time maximum and minimum temperatures can be set. It turns out that the months of September, October, and November mark a transition period into Zambia's rainy season, and are the only months of the year that all-time record high temperatures are likely to occur (thanks go to Maximiliano Herrera for pointing this out.) Zambia is the 18th nation to record a hottest all-time temperature this year, which is a new record. The year 2007 is in second place, with 15 such records. No nations have recorded an all-time coldest temperature so far this year; I regret erroneously reporting earlier in my blog that Guinea had done so. Guinea actually had its coldest temperature in history last year, on January 9, 2009, when the mercury hit 1.4°C (34.5°F) at Mali-ville in the Labe region. The full updated list of national heat records set in 2010 is below; my source for extreme weather records is the excellent book Extreme Weather by Christopher C. Burt, who is now a featured blogger on wunderground. I thank Chris and weather record researchers Maximiliano Herrera and Howard Rainford for their assistance identifying this year's new extreme temperature records.

Figure 2. Climate Central put together a nice graphic showing the nations that have set new extreme heat records in 2010, which I've updated to include Zambia.

National heat records set in 2010
Bolivia tied its all-time hottest temperature mark on October 29, when the mercury hit 46.7°C (116.1°F) at Villamontes. This ties the record set in Villamontes on three other dates: November 9, 2007, November 1980, and December 1980.

Zambia recorded its hottest temperature in history Wednesday, October 13, when the mercury hit 42.4°C (108.3°F) in Mfuwe. The previous record was 42.3°C (108.1°F) set on November 17, 2005 in Mfuwe.

Belarus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 6, 2010, when the mercury hit 38.9°C (102.0°F) in Gorky. The previous record was 38.0°C (100.4°F) set at Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946.

Ukraine recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury hit 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Lukhansk on August 12, 2010. The previous record was set at the same location on August 1, 2010--41.3°C (106.3°F). 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 37.2°C (99°F) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jyvaskyla on July 9, 1914. The previous official record was 35.9°C at Turku in July 1914, but this reading has been disputed by weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera as being unreliable due improper siting of the instrument too close to tall buildings.

Qatar had its hottest temperature in history on July 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 50.4°C (122.7°F) at Doha Airport. The previous record was 49.6°C in July 2000 at the same location. There are other stations in Qatar,but only the Doha International Airport has reliable data.

Russia had its hottest temperature in history on July 12, when the mercury rose to 45.4°C (113.7°F) at the Utta hydrological station in the Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. This station is not under control of the Russian meteorological service, and may not be 100% reliable. A reading of 44.0°C (111.2°F) was also recorded in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, on July 11. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) at a non-automated station was the 43.8°C (110.8°F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The previous hottest temperature at an automated station was 45.0°C recorded in August 1940 at El'ton. 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 Ust Kara, in the Chita Republic on June 27. 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 22 when the mercury rose to 49.7°C (121.5°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, but old readings at this station, particularly in the 1950s, were affected by over-exposure of the instrument to sun.

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. There were some readings as high as 54°C at Mitribah this summer, but the intrument there was found to be out of calibration.

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. The old Pakistani record was 52.8°C (127°F) at Jacobabad in 1919.

Myanmar (Burma) had its hottest temperature in its recorded history on May 14, when the mercury hit 47.2°C (117.0°F) in Myinmu. This broke the record of 47.0°C set at the same location two days previous (May 12.) Myanmar's previous hottest temperature was 46.0°C (114.4°F) at Magwe in May, 1980. According to Chris Burt, author of the authoritative weather records book Extreme Weather, the 47.2°C measured this year is the hottest temperature in Southeast Asia history.

Ascension 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°F) 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 Honiara Henderson. The previous record for the Solomon Islands was 35.6°C (96.0°F) at Honaiara, date unknown.

Colombia had its hottest reliably measured 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 and April 1998 (exact day unknown.)

Also Notable
China set its all-time heat record for an inhabited place on June 20, 2010, when the mercury hit 48.7°C (119.7°F) at Toyoq. The all-time heat record for China is 49.7°C (121.5°F) on August 3, 2008 at the Aydingkol automatic weather station at the uninhabited Ading Lake in the Turfan Depression in Northwest China.

Martinique, an island in the Caribbean that is a French territory, set what may be its hottest reliably measured temperature record in September, when the mercury hit 36.2°C (97.2°F) at Francois Chopotte. The current all-time record is 36.5°C (97.7°F) in April 1983 at St. Pierre Observatory, but this measurement was taken with older equipment that may not be reliable.

The occupied west bank of Palestine, the portion of Israel that declared independence in 1988 but is not recognized by all nations as a sovereign country, recorded its hottest temperature in history on August 7, 2010, when the temperature hit 51.4°C (124.5°F) at Kibbutz Almog (also called Qalya or Kalya) in the Jordan Valley. The previous record for this portion of Israel was set on June 22, 1942, at the same location.

All-time national heat records were missed by 1°C or less in many other nations this summer, including the Azores, Morocco, Estonia, and Latvia.

Extensive credit for researching these records goes to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, who maintains a comprehensive set of extreme temperature records on his web site.

Next update
I'll have an update Saturday morning.

Jeff Masters

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.