Balmy temperatures of 77 degrees Fahrenheit would not be out of place on a nice, spring day in Santiago, Chile’s capital city. The problem is, it’s currently winter in South America.
Chile, its neighbor Argentina and parts of Uruguay are in the grips of an unusual winter heat wave this week, with temperatures across the region soaring into the 80s and 90s F. Conditions in Vicuña, a mountain town in the Chilean Andes, even topped 100 F this week — far above average high temperatures for this time of year.
“Tuesday was the warmest day in northern Chile in about 72 years, so that gives you an idea of how rare and extreme temperatures in recent days have been,” said Raúl Cordero, a climatologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
South America’s mild conditions add to what has already been a brutal summer for much of the Northern Hemisphere. The planet had its hottest June on record and preliminary observations suggest that July could have been the hottest month ever recorded.
High temperatures in Santiago reached 75 F on Wednesday, while several cities in Uruguay hit 86 F.
A day earlier in Buenos Aires, where average August temperatures range from around 50 to 64 F, the city recorded temperatures over 86 F. Argentina’s National Meteorological Service said it was the warmest start to August since record-keeping began 117 years ago.
Cordero said that, like elsewhere in the world, extreme heat events in South America are exacerbated by climate change. He said heat waves have become four times more likely to occur in parts of Chile in recent decades, adding that what’s unfolding this week is a good example of the types of extreme events that will occur more commonly in a warming world.
“We are having these types of warm episodes more frequently, but they are also more intense heat waves,” he said.
This year, however, El Niño conditions are driving anomalies on top of background global warming.
Source : NBC News