Flood waters ravaged Saudi Arabia and Yemen this week, imperilling over nine-hundred people and killing at least 34. In Riyadh, schools were closed, and there was a great deal of traffic chaos. We have not heard reports of damage estimates at this point, but they could be in the billions. Major flooding also hit Texas recently. The flooding was so severe that it was called a one in two-hundred-year event. No person alive today has ever seen so much infrastructure damage or such high flood waters. Tragically, six people did not make it out of that deleterious torrent alive. Economic and insured losses are likely to top $7 billion. Possibly the most damaging flooding this week happened in central Chile, where deluges and landslides are decimating the region. While only one person is reported to have died, that number may grow significantly as four million people suddenly have very limited access to potable water. On top of that, a major copper mine had to be shut down for an indeterminate amount of time, which could lead to a loss of 5,000 tons of copper.
Meanwhile, the drought is worsening in India, with a third of the subcontinent in severe drought. Approximately 330 million people do not have enough water for daily needs. That number may even be a conservative figure. The monsoons that usually douse India have been extremely weak for the last two years. Severe drought and punishing heat is a fatal combination, and it has killed many Indians recently, including an 11-year-old girl who was collecting water from a village pump. Hundreds of primarily poor people die every summer at the peak temperatures, but dramatically high temperatures have arrived early this year, and many more are expected to die. Anger is continuing to mount over the government’s alleged misuse of water. Protesters blocked traffic along a major artery over inadequate water supply. The volatile situation could well be made worse by the oppressive heat. The temperatures are expected to hit 45ÂºC(113ÂºF), and heat stroke is a significant danger in those temperatures, especially when compounded with inadequate water. While the next monsoon should be strong, for potentially hundreds of people, it will be too late.
The fire season has started early in British Columbia, Canada, with several blazes near the middle of the province. Temperatures of 28ÂºC(82.4ÂºF) are also arriving early. Relatively hot days like that are usually found in July. There was very little snow in BC this year, so some towns are so dry that officials are calling them tinder dry. 37 new fires started in Prince George in a single day due to the intense wind and these tinderbox conditions. It is s too early to tell whether this is simply an anomaly or if it portends a disastrous fire season for BC, but it is certainly a bad start.