Extreme Weather Seems Nearly Everywhere

    10 May 2024

    In recent months, reports of extreme weather have reached new levels. Some climate scientists say they cannot remember when the world had so much extreme weather.

    In Brazil, for example, flooding killed at least 100 people and damaged the southern city of Porto Alegre. Voters and politicians in India are facing heat as high as 46 degrees Celsius during national elections.

    A heat wave caused officials to close schools in the Philippines. Thailand has reported deaths from record heat. Weather experts are also reporting high heat in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives and Myanmar. Record temperatures hit many parts of Africa too.

    A man wades through an area flooded by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 3, 2024.(AP Photo/Carlos Macedo, File)
    A man wades through an area flooded by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 3, 2024.(AP Photo/Carlos Macedo, File)

    In the United States, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center recently put a message on social media service X. It said April had the second-highest number of tornadoes for that month ever recorded.

    Jonathan Overpeck leads the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He said, "It is not surprising to see worsening climate extremes so early in the year." The climate expert added, "If this record pace of warming continues, 2024 will likely be a record year of climate disasters and human suffering."

    Some scientists have been saying that, when the world is warmer, it is likely to have more extreme weather. They call these "climate events," including record heat and rainfall. They say climate change is also changing where and when weather events take place. Alvaro Silva said that leads to rainy and hot systems staying over areas for longer periods. Silva is a climate scientist at the World Meteorological Organization based in Geneva.

    Climate scientists have reported 13 straight months of record high ocean temperatures as a possible influence on the weather extremes.

    Recently, the European climate service Copernicus reported the 11th record-breaking month in a row for the world's average temperature. The average global temperature of 15 degrees Celsius in April beat the old record from 2016 by 0.14 degrees Celsius. Copernicus' data dates back to 1950.

    Last month was 1.58 degrees Celsius warmer than what climate scientists call the pre-industrial period of the late 19th century. Countries signing the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 set a goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    Several influences play a part in the recent extremes. Silva said, "climate change is the most important one."

    In the first five days of May, 70 countries or territories broke heat records, said climatologist Maximiliano Herrera. He follows temperature records across the world.

    Recently in Southeast Asia, "it was the hottest May night ever," Herrera posted on X. Parts of Thailand did not drop below 31 degrees Celsius.

    Many African nations are also facing extreme heat. Herrera said it reached 47.5 degrees Celsius in Kayes, Mali. The capital of Niger, Niamey, had its hottest May night and Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, had its hottest night for any month.

    The heat in Brazil affected cites like Sao Paulo and kept a rainstorm from moving over the country's south. Francisco Aquino, a climatologist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, said that caused the weather to become dangerous.

    There was also an increase in humidity from the Amazon River area, which Aquino called "flying rivers." The flying rivers are air currents that carry a lot of water vapor. "These caused clouds to generate extreme rainfall," he said.

    April also brought the heaviest rains ever recorded to the United Arab Emirates. Parts of major highways flooded, as did Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest airport for international travel.

    I'm Dan Novak.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Dan Novak adapted the story for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    pace — n. the speed at which something moves

    humidity – n. the amount of water suspended in the air

    vapor — n. gaseous water