Extreme-weather havoc

This item appears on page 18 of the October 2010 issue.

Europe heat wave — Two months of record scorching heat ended for Eastern Europe in mid-August. 

In the Moscow area alone, over 4,000 deaths were attributed to the heat wave, with 50% more deaths in July 2010 than July 2009. Temperatures hit 104ºF, the highest there in over 130 years.

At the same time in Russia, months of drought contributed to wildfires over 2,900 square miles, blanketing Moscow in smoke for days. 

China floods — At press time, continuing storms in China that began in May from cyclones and moved through the entire central portion of the country had caused more than 3,000 deaths from floods and landslides. Involving three-quarters of the nation’s provinces, over 140 million people were affected.

Many rivers throughout China, including the Yangtze, Yellow and Songhua, had the highest-level floods in decades. The Yangtze’s new Three Gorges Dam held, mitigating some of the surge with timed releases of water.

Pakistan floods — Beginning in late July, the worst floods on record for Pakistan caused devastation to farmlands and villages down more than 1,000 kilometers of the Indus River. The number of dead is reported at more than 1,600, with over 18 million people affected.

The nation now faces food shortages due to destroyed farmland, disease from polluted water sources and the massive cost of rebuilding infrastructure and homes.

South America deep freeze — Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina experienced a cold snap in July.

A state of emergency was declared in 16 of Peru’s 24 regions. In southern Peru, temperatures were as low as -11ºF. People living above 3,000 feet in the mountains suffered the most, with hundreds of deaths attributed to the cold. Lima hit º46F, it’s lowest temperature in decades. 

Japan heat wave — Japan suffered an unusual heat wave in July and was predicting the hottest summer in 100 years. Over 60 deaths were blamed on the heat. More than 15,000 people sought hospital treatment.