Searing spring heat ripped across parts of Asia in the last days of March, and we now know that many of the extraordinarily high temperatures were indeed records for the month in at least seven countries.
The most incredible record was Pakistan’s, where it has never been so hot this early in the season, according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian. The late-March heat wave was expected to severely affect Karachi, the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh.
Temperatures rose well above average in the city, but the hottest weather was measured to the northeast. The temperature soared to 113.9 degrees in the city of Nawabshah in Sindh on March 30. The next day, Moenjo Daro, also in Sindh, reached the same temperature. Moenjo Daro also holds Pakistan’s all-time hottest temperature record, 128.3 degrees in May 2010.
When winds shifted to come out of the southwest, temperatures in northern India also rose well above average. Delhi soared to 99 degrees last week, which local forecasters said was the hottest so far this season.
In Iraq, the high temperature was 110.8 degrees on March 29, which blasted past the former record of 108.3 degrees, set in 2010.
At least seven countries set March high-temperature records late last week.
Likely March records set on March 29-31
Pakistan — 113.9 degrees (old record 113 degrees in 2010)
Iraq — 110.8 degrees (old record 108.3 degrees in 2010)
Qatar — 104 degrees (old record 102.2 degrees in 1998)
Turkmenistan — 104.4 degrees (old record 102.4 degrees in 2010)
Uzbekistan — 99 degrees (old record 97.5 degrees in 2000)
Tajikistan — 95.5 degrees (old record 92 degrees in 1971)
The World Meteorological Organization does not track monthly records, but it does investigate and confirm more significant records, like continental high and low temperatures.
Even so, Randall Cerveny, the WMO’s chief rapporteur of weather and climate extremes, says he will be watching this region carefully in the next few months.
“The recent huge North African and European dust storms are indicative in part of how hot and dry some parts of North Africa and the Middle East have already become,” Cerveny told The Washington Post. “We will definitely be keeping an eye on those areas for potential record-breaking continental or perhaps even global temperatures as we move into summer.”
At the very least, these records are a reminder that — by the laws of thermodynamics — when one part of the world is exceptionally cool, another part must be exceptionally hot. Cerveny says these pronounced variations suggest the weather pattern will remain interesting for potential all-time records.
As parts of Asia roast in triple-digit springtime heat, the Eastern United States is in a very cold pattern. The month of March was colder than February across much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. In the first full weekend of April, temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees below normal from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast. A chance of snow remains in the forecast during the first days of April, despite longer daylight hours and higher sun angle.
These records were first brought to our attention over the weekend by Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster at Meteo France.
In June 2015, a deadly heat wave struck southern Pakistan that pushed temperatures to 120 degrees. More than 2,000 people died during the heat wave from dehydration and heat stroke, mainly in Karachi.