Chaitanya's Random Pages

November 14, 2010

End of a remarkable heat streak

Filed under: climate and weather,geography — ckrao @ 5:42 am

I have been tracking the maximum temperatures of Makkah, Saudi Arabia for the last few weeks and noticed that even this late in the year it has been recording temperatures in excess of 100°F. The Guinness Book of Records has listed Marble Bar, Western Australia as the place with the most consecutive days above 100°F with 160, which it set back in the summer of 1923-24. It would appear that in recent times Makkah exceeds this almost every year. Makkah (or Mecca) is of course famous as the holiest place for Islam (the birthplace of Muhammad), with millions going there on pilgrimage for Hajj every year.

From March 31 to November 12 this year, if the weather records are reliable, Makkah has reported a maximum temperature in excess of 100°F every single day – 227 consecutive days!! The maximum on November 13 was a chilly 99.3°F (37.4°C). 🙂

This comfortably breaks its previous record of 208 days in 2007 (April 17 – November 10). I have graphed the maximum temperatures from March 1 to November 20 December 8 2010 here. Even as late as December 2 the temperature reached 38°C!

If the numbers are right the amazing feature of this streak is the consistency of temperatures. Within the 227-day streak above the pink line, 199 days were at least 40°C but only 42 of these were at least 45°C. Other parts of the middle east are warmer in the middle of summer. It is only in October and November where it becomes one of the hottest few places on the planet. If it were not for a single day in the middle of July the streak of 40+°C days would also be huge – something like 162 days! It appears that 100°F is a perfectly chosen threshold for such a heat streak.

After seeing this, I tried to find the place that had the hottest streak of 45+°C temperatures this year. The best I could find was a place in the Kuwaiti desert called Jahra (another station Mitribah showed hotter temperatures but apparently the measurements there are not so trustworthy). Here is a graph of the maximum temperatures of Jahra also dating back to 1 March of this year.

Between 1 July and 10 September (inclusive), its lowest maximum temperature was 45.3°C – that’s 72 consecutive days above 45°C! It could have been many more were it not for a 5-day “cool” spell at the end of June. You can see how high the temperatures were between June and September, and then they fell away in October while Makkah’s heat remained.

Finally, you might be wondering how this level of heat compares with another hot spot, Death Valley in California. This year’s summer was not as intense as that of 2009, so I will plot 2009 temperatures here (starting a month later than the previous plots and finishing earlier):

The vertical red lines mark July 1 and July 31 to demarcate one of the hottest months (in maximum temperature) recorded anywhere in the world in the past 50 years. The average maximum temperature in July 2009 for Death Valley was 49.2°C (120.6°F)! For comparison in Jahra July and August this year had 48.1°C and 48.2°C as the average maximum temperatures respectively. In Death Valley the longest streak of 45+ °C days was 29 – far short of the 72 recorded at Jahra this year (if measurements there are reliable). Some places in the Middle East have longer heat streaks, but during the middle of summer, it is hard to match Death Valley for peak heat.

References:

http://www.ogimet.com (Synop report summaries for Makkah and Jahra)

http://accuweather.com (for Death Valley data)

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3 Comments »

  1. Interesting this, given that the world cup will be held in Qatar. Would be interesting to see what the historical temperatures were in the summer and winter given that they are considering moving it to then…

    Comment by jiun — December 30, 2010 @ 8:12 am | Reply

  2. Qatar’s capital Doha has an average maximum temperature of 38.2, 41.2, 41.5, 40.7, 38.6 (°C) in the months May through September respectively (ref: Wikipedia age on Doha). This year’s averages were about a degree higher and it even topped 50°C there one day this year. The average maximums are a far more pleasant 24.1, 21.7, 23.0 (°C) in December through to February. Have they already decided on a June-July World Cup in 2022?

    Comment by ckrao — January 1, 2011 @ 6:14 am | Reply

    • I have no idea but it’s interesting info nonetheless. Can’t imagine playing in 50 degree heat. That’s mental. Keep up the work with the site. Really like the sports related stuff too.

      Comment by jiun — January 1, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | Reply


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