For most of the world, 42.6ºC (108.7ºF) is very hot. Hotter indeed than many places have every recorded. But in Quriyat, Oman, on Tuesday, June 26 it was the closest people got to cool relief, being the minimum overnight temperature. As far as anyone can tell, this is the hottest minimum anywhere in the world since records began.
Records get broken all the time of course, but this wasn't a case of adding a few extra tenths of a degree. The previous record, also set in Oman back in 2011, was 41.9º C (107.4º F). In fact, the old record was broken not once but twice in successive days, with Jeff Masters at the Weather Underground noting the temperature in Quriyat stayed above 41.9º for 51 hours in succession.
Unsurprisingly, the daytime temperatures were also fierce. At 49.8ºC (121.6ºF) they were far below the global record (56.7ºC/134ºF) but according to Masters, were the highest temperatures ever recorded in Oman in June, and close to the local record for any time of the year.
The World Meteorological Organization only keeps track of a few of the possible records out there – such as hottest maximum temperatures – so a network of amateur and professional meteorologists have taken to filling the gap, sharing extreme results when they see them. Several alerted Masters to this record, including Maximiliano Herrera who keeps an extraordinarily thorough blog of apparent temperature records, including checking for likely bad data.
The record follows the hottest April temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world, set in Nawabshah, Pakistan this year, and a slew of records last year.
As evidence for global warming, a single (or even pair) of unbearably hot nights doesn't rank with this year's greatest shock – the almost complete disappearance of ice in the Bering Sea in February.
However, it should serve as a visceral reminder of what unchecked global warming has in store for us. Oman is a relatively wealthy and peaceful country, with widespread air-conditioning. Unfortunately the nation borders on Yemen, where an ongoing war has left millions displaced, often without access to clean water. The heatwave that triggered this record extended to Yemen as well, but we'll probably never know how many people died there as a result.
Just last month Oman experienced a rare tropical cyclone, one of two to hit the Arabian Peninsula in quick succession, causing damaging floods. The cyclone at least left a legacy of temporary lakes in what is usually the world's largest contiguous sand desert. It's unlikely anything so good will come from this heat.
[H/T: The Washington Post].