Bandar Mahshahr, Iran, soared to a staggering heat index of 163 degrees Friday afternoon as a heat wave continued to bake the Middle East, already one of the hottest places on earth.
“That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen, and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world,” AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani said in a statement.
While the temperature was “only” 115 degrees, the dew point was an unfathomable 90 degrees. On Thursday, the Iranian city of about 100,000 reached a heat index of 154 degrees. The combination of heat and humidity, measured by the dew point, is what makes the heat index — or what the temperature actually feels like outside.
“A strong ridge of high pressure has persisted over the Middle East through much of July, resulting in the extreme heat wave in what many would consider one of the hottest places in the world,” Sagliani said.
Baghdad sweltered to its all-time record high on Thursday when temperatures soared to 124 degrees, AccuWeather reported. The heat was so bad that Iraq’s Council of Ministers declared a four-day mandatory holiday throughout the country starting Thursday.
Little relief is in the forecast. “The ridge of high pressure will remain in place across the Middle East through at least the next week, so more oppressive heat and humidity, and more astounding apparent temperatures, are likely through the next several days,” Sagliani said.
Along with the Red Sea coast of Ethiopia and the Gulf of Aden coast of Somalia, thePersian Gulf region is known for a fierce combination of heat and humidity, according to the book Extreme Weather by Christopher Burt. Sea water temperatures there can be in the upper 80s and low 90s, he writes, so the ocean “has no cooling effect on coastal communities and provides an ample source of moisture in the form of humidity.”
Though not an official record, the highest heat index ever recorded was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Burt writes, when it hit 178 degrees in July 2003.