The Middle East is roasting right now. Last week, an unprecedented ‘heat dome’ descended over a vast region from Dubai to Beirut, and there’s no sign of it breaking anytime soon.
Last Friday in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr, the air felt like 165º F (74ºC). As The Washington Post notes, this is the second highest heat index ever reported, period. (The actual air temperature, minus humidity, was closer to 115ºF, or 46ºC.) This week, temperatures in the southern Iraqi city of Basra are expected to hover around 123ºF, rising a bit on the weekend, The Guardian reports. In Lebanon, temperatures will stay in the 90s, but high humidity levels are making it feel much hotter.
The hellish temperatures are due to a meteorological phenomenon known as a ‘heat dome’ — a high pressure ridge that develops in the upper atmosphere, forcing the air below it to sink and compress.
In many cities, the heat has has been made even more unbearable by ailing infrastructure, widespread power failures, and sandstorms. In Beirut, strict power rationing is leaving some residents with only an hour or two of electricity a day. In Jordan, a dust storm engulfed Queen Alia international airport and diverted planes this past weekend, The Guardian reports.
Iraqis protest power cuts during a record breaking heat wave on July 31st. Image via Haidar Mohammed Ali / Getty
Living in a literal sauna is really, really bad for your health. It makes breathing hard. It makes you sweat a lot. Excess sweat causes dehydration, fatigue and muscle cramps. Heat can make your heart pump blood faster, which can cause it to thicken, which can make it harder to pump. This all leads to heat exhaustion and fainting.
A record-breaking heat wave in India earlier this summer claimed over 2,500 lives.
When it’s not killing us, heat is driving us crazy. As Discovery News reports, several medical papers have found links between heat and violence, heat and suicide, or heat and psychiatric breakdowns.
So, how to beat the heat? Stay inside, don’t exert yourself too much, and try to stay hydrated. Governments throughout the Middle East are declaring national holidays to keep people at home. But we all better hope the heat dome breaks soon, because societies don’t function so well when people have to stay indoors all the time.
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Top image via Mohammed Abed / Getty