Eleven people have died and more than a thousand taken by ambulance to hospitals during a major heatwave in Japan this weekend.
Fourteen cities broke heat records in Japan, with the city of Higashiomi reaching a record-breaking 38.8° C (101.8° F) and more than a quarter of observation points across the nation recorded temperatures of 95° or higher. The high temperatures prompted Japan’s weather service to issue heatwave advisories for 41 of the country’s 47 prefectures, or government districts.
Japan’s current heatwave comes almost a year after another historic heatwave killed 17 and sent more than 9,800 people to the hospital. During the week of August 5–11, 2013, record-breaking heat engulfed Japan, with one weather station reaching a national high of 105.8ºF.
And Japan isn’t the only region to experience record-breaking heat last week. On Thursday, Phoenix, Arizona set a record of 116°F. In other parts of the state, temperatures were even higher — Yuma reached 117 °F, tying a record high for the date, and Tacna reached 120°.
“We have not dropped below the 90 degree mark since Tuesday morning, if you can believe that,” Matt Pace of Phoenix’s NBC 12 News said Thursday.
Heat like that can be deadly, especially for the young and elderly and those without air conditioning, as the deaths in Japan show. In Arizona, the extreme heat prompted warnings that even healthy people were at risk of heat stroke, with the Phoenix Fire Department asking residents to stay inside during daytime hours during the heatwave.
Scientists have long warned that climate change will likely bring more frequent and more intense heat waves to parts of the world.
“Global warming is bringing more frequent and severe heat waves, and the result will be serious for vulnerable populations,” Amanda Staudt, National Wildlife Federation climate scientist said. “That means air pollution in urban areas could get worse, bringing increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks.