Jul 17, 2023, 12:11pm EDT

What to know: Three continents are battling extreme heat right now

A view of sign board warning of extreme heat in Death Valley, California, U.S. July 15, 2023. REUTERS/Jorge Garcia
REUTERS/Jorge Garcia

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The News

Three continents are in the grip of deadly extreme heat, and Sardinia, a southern region of Italy, is projected to hit 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) Tuesday.

We’ve collected insightful reporting and analysis on how huge swaths of the world are battling heatwaves at the same time.

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  • Global alarm bells ought to be ringing with surging ocean temperatures, heatwaves, and wildfires across the world. Without interventions, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects the globe to warm 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels — but ”we don’t know what the new normal is," Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, said. “The new normal will be what it is once we do stop burning fossil fuels … and we’re nowhere near doing that.” — The Washington Post
  • Climate change often feels very far away, and then sometimes disaster hits, quite literally, close to home. David Gelles, author of the Climate Forward newsletter, described devastating flooding which impacted his family’s cabin in New York’s Hudson Valley. “The United States is nowhere close to ready for the threat of catastrophic flooding, especially in areas far from rivers and coastlines,” he wrote. — The New York Times
  • Italy’s iLMeteo weather website has nicknamed Europe’s heatwave Cerberus, a reference to the three-headed guard dog of the underworld in Ancient Greek mythology. While the name has caught on in headlines across Europe, some critics fear that the moniker takes away from the serious threat the heatwave poses. ILMeteo, however, is known for its catchy nicknames of extreme weather events, titling a 2017 heatwave ‘Lucifer.’ — Wired
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Know More

Italy is at the center of what has been dubbed a “heat storm,” and tour guides in Rome have described instances of visitors fainting on tours. In Spain, thousands were evacuated on La Palma island after a wildfire broke out.

Temperatures reached 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 degrees Fahrenheit) in China Sunday. It shattered records in Sanbao, a township in Xinjiang. Just six months ago, the region had recorded a low of -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Sunday’s heat broke the last record set in 2015, of 50.3 degrees Celsius (122.54 Fahrenheit).

The heatwave which has gripped Texas for weeks has led to dozens of deaths, including one 67-year-old Houston man living in a home with no air conditioning, local news reported.