On Monday, the Pakistani city of Nawabshah in the southern Sindh province set what is believed to be a new world record—and it’s not a source of pride.
The thermometer reached 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit, setting a new April heat record for the entire planet, reports Haroon Janjua at The Guardian.
While the forecast called for a little heat in the city of 1.1 million people, meteorologists didn’t anticipate the record-setting temperatures. “We have issued forecasts about the extreme heat in Sindh province but were not expecting a world record in the month of April,” Ghulam Rasool, director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department tells Janjua.
As Christopher Burt, an expert on weather extremes, tells Jason Samenow at The Washington Post, the latest temperature is the highest in April “yet reliably observed on Earth in modern records.”
There is a competing claim for April’s hottest spot, however. In 2001, Santa Rosa, Mexico, reported a temperature of 123.8 degrees, though Burt calls that claim “dubious.” In fact, the World Meteorological Organization doesn’t keep track of monthly temperature records and defers to Burt’s judgment on the matter.
Whether it’s a record or not doesn’t matter much—the suffering caused by the heat is real. According to Janjua there were at least 24 cases of heatstroke on Monday, including some in which individuals passed out. As Brian Kahn at Earther reports, many businesses in the city shut down during the heat. Energy use from air conditioning also led to outages around the city, making matters even worse.
This is not the first time the city has suffered through extremes. Nawabshah also hit 113.9 degrees in March, which was also a record for Pakistan. Last April, a nearby city Larkana also hit 122 degrees, which was, at the time, a new record for Pakistan.
The heat may drive people out of the bustling city for the summer. “We are worried that the extreme heat started too early this summer, and are planning to migrate to other cities if the situation remains the same,” city resident, Ismail Domki tells the Janjua.
As Kahn reports, Pakistan is not alone. Much of the heat in the country comes from a massive “heat dome,” which is a region capped with high pressure that prevents the escape of heat. This latest dome is centered atop the Arabian Sea, which is also causing record heat in some cities in eastern Europe, India and other regions of Asia.
As Kahn reports, the dome may have also triggered crazy weather in the Middle East last week. As The Post's Samenow reported at the time, catastrophic flooding hit Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, and a massive dust storm rolled through Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Who knows what will happen in the month of May. According to Jeff Master’s at Weather Underground, during this month last year, the town of Turbat in western Pakistan hit 128.3 degrees, setting the record for the highest recorded May temperature. This was one of the five hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet.
But that’s unlikely to be the end of the story. As Kahn points out, more and more research suggests temperatures and heatwaves will continue along their upward march as climate change progresses, leading to more heat-related deaths, droughts and general misery.