Climate change

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If scorching heat waves, raging wildfires and unusually high number of deaths caused by extreme heat in parts of East Asia, Western Europe, North Africa and North America hogged headlines a week ago, towards the end of last week, it was the turn of unseasonal summer rains and the resultant floods and deaths elsewhere. The common thread in these extreme natural calamities is the dangers caused by climate change. Countries as geographically distant as the UAE, the US and Iran experienced the havoc caused by incessant downpour.
Far away in the US, flash flooding caused by torrential rains killed at least 25 people in eastern Kentucky and the death toll is expected to rise. Hundreds of people had been rescued by boat and there had been about 50 aerial rescues using helicopters deployed by the National Guard. Eastern Kentucky floods a lot but we’ve never seen something like this. Folks who deal with this for a living who have been doing it for 20 years have never seen water this high. Some areas reported receiving more than eight inches of rain in a 24-hour period. The water level of the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Whitesburg rose to a staggering 20ft, well above its previous record of 14.7ft.
Seven Asian expatriates were found dead in the UAE following floods across the country, the UAE’s interior ministry said on Friday when evacuations were underway in the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Fujairah, in the aftermath of torrential rainfall. In next door Iran, rescuers searched overflowing rivers and through piles of debris on Friday to try to find people missing after landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains. 100 towns and 300 villages in 18 of Iran’s 31 provinces had been affected by floods in the past days. Most of the country’s highways were closed.
Friday’s worst hit area was Firouz Kooh, in the foothills of Alborz Mountains northeast of Tehran, where at least 10 people lost their lives and around 16 missing, Tehran governor Mohsen Mansouri told state TV. The town of Firouz Kooh, about 140km from Tehran, is a favourite retreat for vacationers because of its cool summer temperatures. The area’s lush trails are also popular with trekkers. On Thursday, state media said at least eight people died in a landslide caused by floods in the village of Imamzadeh Davood in northwestern Tehran that also damaged a religious shrine. As many as 14 people were reported missing. The previous Saturday, flash floods in the southern Fars province killed 22 people.
In Qatar, the surprise, unseasonal summer downpour last Thursday flooded many roads, temporarily disrupting life. Represented by the Joint Rainfall Emergency Committee, the Ministry of Municipality provided the work teams, equipment and mechanisms necessary to pump out rainwater from various regions of the country on a timely basis and around the clock.
The rain, which brought down temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius for a day, provided a sigh of relief for many residents amid searing temperatures in the past two months. It is bizarre that weather patterns have become so unpredictable across the world. As Qatar Museums’ Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani posted on Instagram last Thursday, heat waves in Europe, rain & floods in the Gulf…climate change doesn’t get more real.