We’ve seen bizarre weather across the globe for a number of weeks, from record heat waves to longstanding droughts. A likely cause of this is another record that has recently been broken; warmest El Niño. This year’s El Niño was 3ºC (5.4ºF) above normal ocean temperatures over the last week. While records have only been kept since 1990, the previous record was 2.8ºC* (5ºF). The record week could indicate an exceptionally strong El Niño year. The World Meteorological Organization already ranks this as the biggest in over 15 years, and it could get stronger yet. One well documented effect of El Niño is heat waves in Australia, and Sydney, Australia is battling an intense heat wave with temperatures in excess of 43ºC(109ºF). These sweltering temperatures make it dangerous to exercise or work outside, and long term exposure without cooling can and frequently does result in death, especially for the elderly. Emergency responders treated two dozen people suffering from heat related illnesses. These temperatures are the hottest November temperatures in over three decades. On top of that, there were fires to contend with. One such fire occurred at an electrical substation, cutting power to thousands of homes. In Vitoria, Australia, crews are fighting massive wild fires. More than 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres) conflagration has killed at least two people and hospitalized at least a further 13. It has also gutted 16 homes so far. Wildfires have killed 173 people in Australia so far this year, and destroyed 2,000 homes.
We have also seen some extreme wet weather last week. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, heavy rains caused flooding that submerged numerous cars and closed schools. The deluge was responsible for one death there. Neighboring Qatar got doused with 80mm (3.14”) of rain, more than they would typically get in a whole year. While there are no reports of death in Qatar, there was one fatality in the city or Rimah, to the northeast. In other news, while tropical storm Rick did not make landfall anywhere, and thus caused no damage, it was an incredibly rare storm that deserves mention. Rick was the fifth tropical storm since record keeping that has formed this late in the Pacific.
Unfortunately, the tragic events we reported on are in no way a full reflection of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our recent headlines, please click here.
*The source did not note whether the temperature referred to was in Celsius or Fahrenheit, but the first listing of a temperature was in Celsius, and the source is from the UK, so we reasonably make that assumption.