Man cooling down with water from a hose. Photo: Wikipedia Commons License
28 Jul 2018

The record heatwaves and droughts that set the world on fire in 2018


Thermometer showing over 30 decrees C. Photo: Pixabay.
Thermometer showing over 30 decrees C. Photo: Pixabay.

A record heat wave has swept across the world. Unusually high temperatures in normally cool countries like Great Britain, Finland, Ireland and Japan has brought an unprecedented activity of wildfires and many civilians have lost their lives due to heat related health problems.

Here is an overview of some of the recent weather related problems around the world this summer:


At least 80 people have lost their lives and many are still missing after one of the deadliest fires in Europe in a hundred years, Greece hit Greece in late July. The city of Mati was hit the hardest. Winds of around 28 meters per second caused the fire to spread quickly and damaged hundreds of buildings. Many of the dead were children.


United States

In the United States, some unusually dry years  in a row combined with hot weather led to extensive fires in and around Yosemite National Park. The park had to close for visitors. One firefighter lost his life in June fighting wildfires.

Several major major forest and land fires are raging in other parts of California, which have had the worst start of the annual fire season in a decade.

Strong heat and heavy winds contributed to the fires in California spreading so fast.

Other states in the United States affected by fires this summer are Colorado, Alaska and Idaho. Two firefighters have lost their lives during extinction work.

In total, approximately 14,000 square kilometers have burned in the United States.

However, the fires are still slightly smaller this year than last summer.



A two-month long heat wave in Siberia has caused major problems with forest fires. In May, Russian firefighters fought 693 fires in 40 different locations. Since the fires in Siberia, researchers have measured elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to Nasa.



In Finland, the fires ravaged near the border with Russia, but after a few days the firemen received help from rain.

The largest forest fires in July were in Pyhäjärvi in ​​South Finland. The fire covered an area of ​​70 hectares and about twenty buildings were evacuated, Swedish Yle reports.


Unusually hot weather and drought resulted in large fires in mainly northern and central Sweden during July. Several EU countries, including Poland, France, Germany and Portugal, sent aid to Sweden to control the fires.
UK. It was to date the largest coordinated EU-aid effort ever organized, according to the EU-commission, and the largest aid effort Sweden has ever received.

United Kingdom

In Saddleworth Moor in northwestern England, the fire service fought an extensive wildfire for three weeks. The police suspect that the fire has been erected.


In Ireland farmers have been severely affected by drought. June month was measured as the driest in 160 years, with only 3.8 mm of rain throughout the month at a Phoenix Park test station. Researchers warn that Ireland will suffer from recurrent drought problems, the independent reports.



In southern Norway, a wildfire in Aust-Agder was fought during July. Temperatures have hit new heat records in Hordaland and Rogaland in southwestern Norway, where temperatures of over 34 degrees were recorded.

During the second half of July, several mountain stations had tropical nights, as did the coast in the far north of Norway.


The thermometers have shown 41.1 degrees in some places in Japan this summer, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.

In many places in Japan, the record high temperatures have harvested many lives. At least 65 people have died, and more than 22,000 people have been taken to hospital because of the heat wave.

South Korea

In Seoul, the temperature reached 39.2 degrees, which is the highest temperature measured in the capital since 1907. Around the country, residents have had temperatures between 33 and 37 degrees, and many have been hospitalized due to heat-related problems.

New Zealand

Earlier this year in January, the country was hit by a heat wave, with temperatures reaching 37 degrees in the southern parts of New Zealand. It is unusual for temperatures to rise above 30 or 35 in the country, and the residents were not prepared for this heat wave.


In Canada, fire services are also fighting against heat and fires. Around 70 people have died in the heatwave, most of them older and ill. Just in Montreal died 34 people between June 29 and July 7, reports NPR. The province of Quebec in eastern Canada was hit the hardest by the heatwave. Western Canada has had the most problems with forest fires.



Although it is winter in the southern hemisphere, temperatures around 25 degrees C have been recorded in Sydney, Australia. It is about eight degrees C higher (30% ) than the average for this period. The Australian fall that preceded winter was the country's warmest ever.



In Oman, the lowest temperature of the day at one point was 42.6 degrees C, which may have been one of the highest lows ever recorded , according to the BBC.


In the city of Ouargla in Algeria, the temperature reached 51.3 degrees on July 5th. That´s the highest temperature measured reliably on the African continent. It is a remarkable temperature, even for this normally very hot North African desert area.


Photo Credits: Cover, Above: Wikipedia Commons License. Thermometer photo by Pixabay.com