Record heat in California


Sunset over San Francisco, CA, USA, 01 Sept 2017 (Twitter)

San Francisco rarely suffers from hot weather which is why many residents are struggling to stay cool during a heat wave since most homes don’t have air conditioners.

The U.S. National Weather Service says the thermometer climbed to an all-time record-breaking 41.1 C (106 F) on 01 September and another record of 38.9 C (102 F) was set the following day.

Those sizzling highs are a far cry from the average of 21 C for the northern California city.

Numerous wildfires in the region have produced smoke and haze which has added to air quality concerns.

The heat has also stretched northward to Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia where temperatures could exceed 30 C on Vancouver Island.


A heat wave named Lucifer

hoteuropeTemperatures across southern Europe have been so hot in recent days – climbing to more than 40 C in some areas – the heat wave has been called “Lucifer”.

Several deaths have been reported and severe weather warnings have been issued in Spain, France, Italy and the Balkan States.

Serbia’s capital Belgrade reached a scorching 39 C and train service in the southern part of the country was halted after rail tracks buckled in the extreme heat.

By contrast, northern Europe has been much cooler and wetter with the thermometer dropping as low as 4 C in the Scottish Highlands.

Thousands evacuated in B.C. wildfires 

Wildfire north of Cache Creek, BC, 07 July 2017 (BC Transportation/Twitter)

A state of emergency is in place across British Columbia which gives government special authority over more than 230 wildfires. 

B.C. wildfire officials say weeks of hot, dry weather combined with strong winds and dry lightning have led to almost 16,000 hectares being burned so far. 

More than 7,000 residents in the Interior and Cariboo regions have been evacuated from communities like Cache Creek, Princeton, Ashcroft and 100 Mile House to be housed in Kamloops. 

Temperatures remain hot in these areas this weekend soaring above 30 C. 

Sizzling heat in Southwest U.S.


Children play at a water park in Las Vegas, NV, USA, 20 June 2017 (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Excessive heat warnings have been posted in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico where record highs have been broken.

Las Vegas tied its record today of 47 C and Phoenix came close to its all-time high at 48 C.

Many flights have been delayed or cancelled since smaller jets can’t operate properly in dangerously hot conditions.

Temperatures have soared to 53 C in Death Valley, California which climbed to 56.7 C on 10 July 1913 – the hottest ever in North America.

Forest fire tragedy in Portugal


Burnt cars block a road in the Pedrogao Grande area, Portugal, 18 June 2017 (AP/Armando Franca)

A massive forest fire in central Portugal has claimed more than 60 lives and injured dozens of others with hot, windy conditions fanning the flames.

Many died in their vehicles trying to flee the blaze while others died from smoke inhalation.

Portugal has declared three days of mourning in what has been called the worst human tragedy in recent times.

More than 2,000 firefighters are on the scene with help coming from Spain and across Europe.

Officials believe lightning started the fire on Saturday in the mountainous area of Pedrogao Grande, northeast of Lisbon.

Snow falls in Sahara Desert


Snow covers red sand dunes, Ain Sefra, Algeria, 19 Dec 2016 (Karim Bouchetata/Geoff Robinson)

One of the hottest places on Earth has recorded a light snowfall for the first time in 37 years – since February 1979.

In the normally dry, hot Sahara desert, snow fell in the town of Ain Sefra, Algeria on 19 December.

The snow stayed for almost a day before it melted away.

A “Gateway to the Desert,” Ain Sefra is 1,078 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

July 2015 hottest month on record – NOAA

July was Earth’s hottest month in at least 135 years of record keeping according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

July’s average temperature was 16.5 Celsius, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about 0.07 C.

Records go back to 1880 but nine of the 10 hottest months have happened since 2005.

One of the exceptions was Atlantic Canada where the Maritimes had a cooler than normal July while Newfoundland was much colder than average.

Polar vortex in July

Courtesy The Old Farmers Almanac

Courtesy The Old Farmers Almanac

Most of us are familiar with the polar vortex.

Last winter, the cold outbreak sunk deep into North America and brought frigid conditions to much of the continent.

But the polar vortex can happen in July too and essentially during mid-summer, it means the jet stream is taking an unusually deep trek south.

For Ontario, it has meant below seasonal temperatures this July.

As a matter of fact, St. John’s has had more days above 25 C this month than Toronto which is fairly significant given the Ontario capital’s typical hot and humid weather during July.

Fortunately, New Brunswick like Newfoundland has been on the other side of the jet stream this month with warm, sunny days and above seasonal temperatures.

Wildfire rages in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley

Smith Creek wildfire near West Kelowna, B.C. (Facebook)

Smith Creek wildfire near West Kelowna, BC, 20 July 2014 (Facebook)

The so-called Smith Creek wildfire is roughly half contained according to British Columbia fire officials and thousands have been allowed to return to their homes in West Kelowna.

About 300 residents remain evacuated since their homes are deemed to be closest to the fire.

The Smith Creek wildfire is roughly 260 hectares in size and officials say blazes inside the perimeter will keep burning and will be visible for several weeks.

Forecasters say recent wet weather will end and hot, dry conditions are expected to return later this week.

Heatwave subsides in Australia

Cooling off at the Australian Open in Melbourne, 14 Jan 2014 (Getty Images)

Cooling off at the Australian Open in Melbourne, 14 Jan 2014 (Getty Images)

An extremely hot air mass which enveloped much of southern Australia this week has finally subsided after temperatures climbed into the mid-40s Celsius.

Heat records were shattered and both players and spectators of the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne tried to cool off when the thermometer climbed above 40 C.

The normal January high in Melbourne – at the height of summer Down Under – is in the high 20s C.

The heatwave led to power blackouts to conserve energy and more than 100 bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.