Killer-Heatwaves Imminent in 2017 – UN Warns

UN Scribe Guterres and deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed

Seun Olaoye/

The world should prepare for further heatwaves this year, UN weather agency officials said Tuesday in Geneva.

Parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the U.S. have already seen record temperatures for May and June.

The Pakistani city Turbat recorded 54 degrees in late May, the hottest temperature ever seen in Asia, according to the World Meteorological Agency (WMO).

The world record of 56.7 degrees was set in Death Valley in the US in 1913.

“The concern is now that we are close to that record,” WMO meteorologist Omar Baddour told a press conference.

“According to the data we have, we expect to have other heatwaves in many parts of the world,” he said.

According to the WMO, many heat-related deaths can be prevented if authorities: issue public warnings; make sure that vulnerable populations are sheltered; and prepare hospitals for an increase in patients.

In 2003, a heatwave in Europe caused 70,000 deaths, while a short spell of extreme heat in India and Pakistan in 2015 killed 4,000 people.

India has started issuing health advisories and has drawn up effective action plans in recent years, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said.

According to official U.S. and European data, between January and May, average global temperatures were the second highest on record, with the record only having been set in 2016.

The 2016 heat spike was fuelled by the El Nino, a weather phenomenon caused by unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean.

This year, weather experts do not expect an El Nino.