Extreme heat forms across Arabian Peninsula after record Russian heatwave

Extreme heat forms across Arabian Peninsula after record Russian heatwave

Extreme heat has now developed across the Arabian Peninsula following a record heatwave across the Russian Arctic earlier this week. Temperatures are reaching nearly 50 °C (122 °F) and are expected to spread further east towards Pakistan and northwest India this week.

Days after a record heatwave spread across the Arctic region, more extreme heat has developed further south across the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. 

On May 18, 2021, the Russian capital Moscow smashed heat temperature records over 100 years old as the city saw 29.2 C (84.6 °F), beating the previous record set in 1897.

The historic temperature came after the city also broke the May 17, with 30.4 °C (85.7 °F) beating the past record of 30 °C (86 °F) set in 1897. The rest of European Russia also saw dozens of heat records, with temperatures averaging 7 to 14 °C (12.6 to 25.5 °F) higher than the usual.

On May 20, an unprecedented maximum temperature of 31.9 °C (89.4 °F) was reported from the station Naryan-Mar, north of the Arctic Circle in Russia. It broke the previous May record of 27.8 °C (82 °F), with the all-time highest temperature being 33.9 °C (93 °F) set in July 1990.

Extreme heat has now spread across the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Arabian Peninsula, with numerous weather stations having maximum temperatures between 46 and 49 °C (114.8 and 120 °F), peaking nearly 50 °C (122 °F) over the past few days across Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Oman, UAE, and Kuwait.

While these countries are well used to extreme heat during summer, this year's heatwave is considered a rare event as it came early in the season. The official start of the meteorological summer is on June 1.


Image credit: Scott Duncan Wx

On May 21, Arafat City in Saudi Arabia registered 46.8 °C (116.2 °F), while Amarah in Iraq reported a maximum of 47.6 °C (117.7 °F). Another weather station in Sur, Oman, registered 46.9 °C (116.4 °F).

On Saturday, May 22, numerous stations peaked between 47 and 49 °C (117 and 120.2 °F) across Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and Oman. The city of Saih Al Salem in the United Arab Emirates registered a sweltering temperature of 49.6 °C (121.3 °F).

Russia has also broken its national heat record for the month of May on Saturday as the weather station in Khasavyurt peaked at 39.7 °C (103.5 °F)-- the highest temperature ever recorded in spring in any place across the country.

On Sunday, May 23, Sudanthile in Qatar recorded 47 °C (116.6 °F), which was an extremely high value for the month of May. The temperature almost reached the national May record of 47.7 °C (117.9 °F) set in 1986 and 2014.

Record heat swept through Turkey as well, with 40.4 °C (104.7 °F) in Urfa. This broke the previous record of 40.3 °C (104.5 °F) set on May 30, 2019.

The extreme heat is forecast to further spread east across southern Iran and Pakistan. Heat is expected to worsen across Iran, Pakistan, and far northwest India, with temperatures likely climbing into 46 to 48 °C (114.8 to 118.4 °F) in some areas.

Pakistan and northern India will experience an even stronger heatwave from Thursday, May 27, reaching up to 48 °C (118.4 °F).

Featured image credit: Met Desk


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