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Japan, South Korea soar to hottest recorded levels

South Koreans swim at Caribbean Bay swimming pool in South Korea’s largest amusement park Everland in Yongin, about 50 km (31 miles) south of Seoul August 11, 2013. South Korea has been suffering from the sweltering heat wave for weeks with temperatures in most parts of the country soaring above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), reported a local news agency (REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won)

Late last week Austria and Slovenia established new records for extreme heat in central Europe. Moving east, we can now add South Korea and Japan to the list of countries with new high temperature records, courtesy the summer of 2013.

The Wall Street Journal reports Shimanto city, in southern Japan, climbed to 106 degrees (41 C) Monday, the country’s highest temperature ever measured.

In Tokyo, the nighttime temperature dropped to just 87 F (30.4 C) Sunday tweets The Weather Channel’s Nick Wiltgen, its highest overnight low temperature in 136 years of record-keeping.

The hot weather is being blamed for 9 deaths in Japan over the weekend writes IOL News.

In South Korea, the record-breaking heat peaked Saturday.

“[T]he government issued a warning of power shortages and the highest temperature ever recorded by the Korea Meteorological Association was hit: 39.2 degrees [102.6 F], reached Saturday in Gimhae in the country’s southeast,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

This latest sweltering stretch in South Korea follows Seoul’s hottest June in 106 years of records.

A bulging heat dome – or ridge of high pressure – centered over the East China Sea is main driver of the heat, forecast to continue for the next several days.

Excessive heat has also plagued parts of China this summer.  Shanghai broke its high temperature record on three separate occasions (July 26, August 6, and ultimately August 7 – 105.4ºF (40.8ºC)).

The searing heat has extended to the northern reaches of Asia as well. Unusually hot weather – some 20 degrees above normal  – bubbled up into northern Siberia in late July, likely contributing to a rash of wildfires.

So while temperatures have been pretty ordinary in North America this summer, the heat has been punishing from central Europe across the Orient.

(One caveat, as I learned after reporting Greenland’s supposed hottest temperature on record, occasionally climate records are amended after further review. So consider these reports from Japan and South Korea preliminary.)