By Staff Writer
In Cayman, across the Caribbean, in the United States, parts of Canada, southern Europe, much of Latin America, all of Africa, and some regions of the Far East, much of the world is baking in a scorching heatwave that shows no immediate signs of abating.
High-temperature records are being broken in several countries with the US, China and parts of Europe already experiencing their hottest temperatures since record-keeping began.
Death Valley in the US lived up to its ominous name with temperatures at one point peaking at 127.4F - 53.3C raising fears that it was close to setting a new record for the highest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.
According to meteorologists, 2023 is on track to become the hottest year on Earth since records began and climate change is said to be the main cause.
In other parts of the US and Europe outbreaks of wildfires are compounding the heat problem while in some other places, extreme rainfall is the menace at the other end of the spectrum.
And there are no signs of a respite from the hot weather especially happening any time soon, at least not for another month or so. The World Meteorological Organization said the extreme heat and rainfall were expected to extend into August.
There’s also the knock-on effect on the health of older people and children in particular with government officials issuing advisories over the risk from the sweltering heat waves.
The impact of agriculture in some parts of the world is crippling with some regions on the brink of famine with its knock-on effects.
Locally for Cayman, the National Weather Service on its website is projecting “moderate heat impact potential with a possible upper limit of extremely high heat for July, August and September.”
In its monthly climate bulletin for July, the CINWS also says that a mid-summer dry spell between July to September, marking the peak of the Caribbean Heat Season (May to October) is forecast to be hotter than usual.
“Frequent and, possibly intense episodes of heat stress in the vulnerable populatiand small livestock because of high temperature and increasing humidity through September.”
It explains that a possible transition into El Niño is often marked by a warmer heat season, a drier summer season, and reduced tropical cyclone activity.
While all of this is happening, concerns are mounting over what this might mean for this year’s hurricane season.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that it has been tracking a steady climb in ocean temperatures since April this year, which is causing unprecedented heat stress conditions in the Caribbean Basin and the Gulf of Mexico.
Globally, warm sea surface temperatures that can fuel hurricanes have been spiking this year with weather experts saying what really matters for Atlantic hurricanes are the ocean temperatures in two locations: the North Atlantic basin, where hurricanes are born and intensify, and the eastern-central tropical Pacific Ocean, where El Niño forms.
“Hurricanes draw energy from warm ocean water beneath them. The warmer the ocean temperatures, the better for hurricanes, all else being equal,” an article in Scientific American explains.
It said that the effects of the weather phenomenon known as El Niño and the extreme ocean heat are about to clash for the 2023 Hurricane Season.
“Warm ocean waters are primed to provide plenty of fuel for the 2023 hurricane season,” the article stated but added that a possible El Niño could quash storms.
The article also recalled that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures were unusually warm during the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on recent record.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced a record 30 named tropical cyclones, while the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season produced 28 named storms, a record 15 of which became hurricanes, including Katrina.
At the start of the 2023 season, the NOAA predicted a near-normal season with 12 to 17 named storms, of which between five and nine could become hurricanes, including one to four major hurricanes.