Extreme weather wave heats northern hemisphere and freezes the south

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Animated map showing record heatwaves across the US and Europe. Many places experienced record temperatures for June

Unusually high temperatures have left Europe and the US sweltering through heatwaves and under health alerts, with new records set in many southern and Midwestern states in the US.

The UK had its hottest day of the year on Friday, with temperatures climbing to more than 30C in parts of south-east England and a high of 31.8C recorded at Heathrow.

Spain and France also suffered unusually hot weather for June, with wildfires breaking out in Catalonia and southern France.

The past seven years, from 2015 to 2021, have been the hottest, globally, on record. Climate change had increased the chances of more extreme temperatures, said Mark McCarthy, head of the UK’s Met Office national climate information centre, though he noted that the UK’s hot June weather was “not unprecedented”.

As the planet’s average temperature increases, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods are expected to become worse and more frequent.

The unseasonal June weather followed a very hot May, which was the fifth warmest on record, matching the experience in 2018 and 2021, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Much of the US was hit by extreme heat last week, killing at least 2,000 cattle in Kansas. New record highs were set in Toledo, Ohio, and Nashville, Tennessee, while the governor of Texas directed regional authorities to deploy emergency resources in response to a water line failure affecting 165,000 people.

“The hottest temperatures versus normal over the weekend will be situated in the northern and central plains where daytime highs will range between 20-30 degrees [Fahrenheit] above normal and record-breaking heat is expected,” the US National Weather Service warned on Friday. “Record heat is also possible in the south-east and along the mid-Atlantic coast.”

More than 20,000 homes and businesses in the states of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois were without power on Friday, according to the website Poweroutage.us.

Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, parts of Australia have suffered through a cold snap that brought unusual snowfalls to southern states and heightened demand for power for heating, adding strain to the grid. New South Wales invoked emergency powers on Friday requiring miners to redirect any coal destined for overseas to local generators.

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