Several cities in Iraq reach 53°C amid intense heat wave

The hot temperatures that were recently observed in Iraq were within one degree of an international record.

The Middle East has recently faced scorching temperatures as a heat dome sits over the region. The extreme weather is forcing millions indoors, straining electricity grids and breaking new temperature records.

Baghdad, Iraq reached a blistering 51.8°C during the afternoon on July 28, which shattered its previous record high of 51°C set on July 30, 2015. Little relief followed on July 29 when the city reached 51.1°C, its second-highest temperature ever recorded.

Southeastern regions in Iraq saw even hotter temperatures on July 30 when weather stations in both Amara and Al Basrah peaked at 53.0°C. Iraq’s national temperature record is 53.8°C, which was set in Basra in 2016, and is still the nation’s hottest temperature ever recorded.

The intense heat wave has also set record-breaking temperatures in other regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton says that the sweltering conditions are courtesy of heat dome, which is a ridge of high pressure that has been stagnant over the Middle East.

The upper level atmosphere has created a sinking flow that has trapped hot air near the Earth’s surface underneath this ‘dome.' High pressure systems also prevent cloud formation, which has allowed for clear skies and relentless sunshine in Iraq and resulted in unbelievably hot conditions.

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The temperatures that were recently observed in Iraq were less than one degree shy from global records. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth are 53.9°C (± 0.1°C margin of uncertainty) in Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21, 2016 and 53.7°C (± 0.4°C) in Turbat, Pakistan on May 28, 2017.

Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California reached 56.7°C on July,10 1913, but weather historians have questioned the accuracy of old temperature records and the meteorological technology that was used over a century ago.