Tag Archives: hot

Portugal and Spain brace for record-breaking temperatures

Amid a scorching-hot summer spanning almost all of the northern hemisphere, Portugal and Spain are preparing for temperatures that could break not only the national record — but a record for the entire continent.

Forecast via Euronews.

Spain’s current record high is 47.3°C (117.14°F) and Portugal can boast a slightly-higher highest temperature, at 47.4°C. But all that may soon change, as current weather models forecast significantly higher temperatures. It’s not out of the question for Portugal to reach a groundbreaking 50°C, surpassing not only the national record but also the European record, which is currently at 48°C (recorded in Athens, Greece, in July 1977).

The probable maximum is set for Saturday, in the southern parts of Portugal and south-western parts of Spain. Met Office forecaster Sophie Yeomans says that the heatwave is directly connected to “a plume of very dry, hot air from Africa.” Although it’s unlikely for temperatures to go over 50°C, records may very well be broken, Yeomans says.

“There’s an outside chance of hitting 50C,” said Yeomans. “If somewhere gets the right conditions, it could do [it] but that’s a very low likelihood.”

Other forecasters have echoed this prognosis.

“Friday and Saturday are likely to be the hottest days with a very real chance of breaking records,” the forecaster of Meteogroup said.

The Spanish meteorology agency, AEMET, has issued an official warning of extreme temperatures, and authorities are already making emergency preparations for the dramatic heatwave. Some 11,000 firefighters and 56 aircraft have already been deployed and are on standby to tackle forest fires — that are likely to emerge in the searing heat.

Iberia, the peninsula hosting the two countries, is not the only area suffering from extreme heat. Scandinavia, an area known for its frigid temperatures, is reporting record highs, Greece is ravaged by wildfires, and most parts of France and Germany have been scorching for months. Aside from some mountainous areas and northern latitudes, few areas have been spared.

Most of Europe is under a heatwave. It’s hard to say that it’s global warming — but it sure walks and quacks like global warming.

Although it’s very difficult to assign a global trend to individual events, there is already substantial evidence that climate change is connected to these record temperatures. Recent studies have shown that man-made climate change is making heatwaves much more likely and, as was the case in previous years, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that current temperatures and global warming are not connected.

Although record-breaking temperatures are not the norm yet, it’s becoming increasingly plausible that this will be the case in the very near future. The evidence is indicating that climate change is increasingly affecting our lives, whether we care to admit it or not.

Man gets terrible headaches after eating world’s hottest chili peppers

It started out just like any other medical case… Who am I kidding? This started out with a hot chili pepper eating contest.

The Carolina Reaper definitely isn’t your average chili pepper — it’s the hottest chili pepper on the planet. Image credits: Magnolia677 / Wikipedia.

Hot stuff

As you’d expect, a hot chili pepper eating contest comes with some risks — those risks became evident in the case of a man who reported excruciatingly painful episodic headaches after eating a ‘Carolina Reaper,’ the world’s hottest chili pepper. The first symptoms started right after he ate the pepper, but intensified as he experienced flashes of excruciating headaches, each lasting for a few seconds.

The pain was so severe he sought emergency care, but various tests returned negative, and it was unclear what was causing the pains — until he took a CT scan.

The CT scan revealed that several arteries of his brain had severely constricted, prompting the diagnosis of thunderclap headache secondary to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS). Doctors wanted to warn both the medical community and the general population of this occurrence.

Thunderclap headaches are essentially severe headaches that reach maximum intensity after only a few seconds or a couple of minutes at most. They can be indicative of cranial hemorrhage and several other serious ailments

RCVS, which is typically characterized by temporary artery narrowing, is often accompanied by thunderclap headache. However, most of the time, it’s associated with prescription meds or illegal drugs. Researchers think that given the circumstance, it’s likely that in this instance, the problem was caused by the chili pepper — but it’s hard to be absolutely sure.

“Given the development of symptoms immediately after exposure to a known vasoactive substance, it is plausible that our patient had RCVS secondary to the Carolina Reaper, write the authors.

Thankfully, the man’s symptoms cleared out by themselves, and a subsequent CT scan five weeks later showed that his affected arteries had returned to their normal width. But the main takeaway remains — don’t mess with extremely hot chili peppers, contest or no contest.

The Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for the hottest chili pepper. The recorded heat level was 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) — for comparison, a Jalapeño has a maximum of 10,000 SHUs. This figure is measured by high-performance liquid chromatography.

Journal Reference: An unusual case of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – “The Carolina Reaper” doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-224085
Journal: BMJ Case Reports



scorched ground

Every other summer expected to break heat records by 2030

By the next decade, every second summer will likely be record-setting hot — hotter than any summer before it in the past 40 years. What’s more, if today’s warming trend continues unabated, by 2050, virtually every subsequent summer will be the ‘hottest ever’.

scorched ground

Credit: Pixabay.

Already, the last couple of years this decade have been unusually hot. It’s tiring to report how almost every year is ‘the hottest yet’ or at least features a ‘record-breaking hot summer’. Although it’s not even over, 2017 is set to be one of the hottest three years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long term warming trend. We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50C in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa,” Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the WMO, told The Guardian earlier this month.

Now, a new study published in the journal Earth’s Future suggests such news will become yearly mundanities. According to Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria, Canada, and his colleagues, record hot summers are now 70 times more likely than they were in the past 40 years over the Northern hemisphere. As a result, heat waves will intensity and more people will risk losing their lives. A different study published in 2017 estimates a 50-fold increase in lives lost due to freak weather in the old world, from 3,000 today (mean average between 1981-2010) up to 152,000 by 2100.

Zwiers’ team employed a ‘fingerprint’ analysis that compares climate models and observational records for temperature and humidity over the past 40 years. Their analysis suggests with “95 percent confidence” that man-made CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases like methane are the primary cause for the huge uptick in hot summers. Today, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are 44 percent higher than they were 150 years ago.

This is just the most recent study from a long list of research that found upcoming years will only get hotter and hotter. Another study published in Nature Climate Change found that about 30 percent of the world’s population is already vulnerable to life-threatening heat waves for 20 days a year. By 2010, three in every four people could be exposed deadly heatwaves. This, along with other dire consequences like sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather, unless the world urgently puts the breaks on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.