On Monday, a city in the southern part of Pakistan soared to 122.4 degrees (50.2 Celsius). This might just be the highest temperature ever reliably measured on the planet during April.
The temperature was observed in the city of Nawabshah, which has a population of 1.1 million and is about 120 miles from the Indian Ocean. Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist at Meteo France, posted the observation on Twitter.
Kapikian’s tweet said that it was the warmest April temperature ever recorded in Pakistan and for the entire Asian continent.
Christopher Burt, an expert on global weather extremes, went a step further. In an email he said it probably was also the highest temperature “yet reliably observed on Earth in modern records.”
The competing hottest April temperature of 123.8 degrees (51.0 Celsius) set in Santa Rosa, Mexico, in April 2001, is “of dubious reliability,” Burt said.
We may never be able to say definitively that Nawabshah’s 122.4 degrees is a world April record because the World Meteorological Organization does not conduct official reviews of such monthly temperature extremes. But Randy Cerveny, who serves as rapporteur for the agency’s committee on extreme records, said that he would trust Burt’s take. “He’s pretty thorough about those things,” Cerveny said in an email.
This is the second straight month in which Nawabshah has set a new monthly temperature record for Pakistan. In late March, a heat wave pushed the temperature there to a national record of 113.9 degrees for the month. Several other countries in Asia also established March record highs during the hot spell from the 29th to the 31st.
April’s heat wave, coming just 30 days later, resulted from a sprawling heat dome centered over the northern Indian Ocean.
The Dawn newspaper described the heat around Nawabshah as “unbearable” and said heatstroke “caused dozens of people to faint.” Pakistan Today reported that the demand for electricity had exceeded generation resulting in “unannounced outages” that exacerbated the heat’s effects due to a lack of air conditioning.
The heat had also spread over India. The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported the temperature reached 107.6 in New Delhi on Monday.
A weather model analysis showed that Monday’s temperatures over southern Pakistan were up to 25 degrees warmer than normal.
A separate dome of hot air, which bubbled over central and eastern Russia over the weekend, pushed the temperature to 94.6 degrees Sunday in the village of Poltavka, near the border with Kazakhstan. Burt said it was the warmest April temperature ever measured in the Asian part of Russia.
The record-setting 122.4 degree reading in Nawabshah adds to a long list of international hot weather extremes since 2017, which includes Spain’s and Iran’s highest temperatures ever recorded last summer. In May 2017, the western town of Turbat in Pakistan hit 128.3 degrees, tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world-record temperature for that month, Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters reported.
As concentrations of heat-trapping gases continue to build in the atmosphere due to human activity, the expectation is for an increase in the intensity, frequency and duration of hot weather.