Gruelling Heatwave Makes Iraq Life Even Tougher! All-Time Record Of 126F To Be Challenged?

Written by on July 20, 2015 in Asia, Summer 2015 with 0 Comments

In a struggling Iraq where thousands live in make shift refugee camps and electricity is intermittent or not an option, summertime is a particularly difficult time for locals. Especially during a heat wave.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

100-degree heat is common place throughout the Middle East during July and August but when temperatures creep above 120 degrees, it becomes a greater challenge to still cool or even stay alive. It’s tough for even the hardiest of desert town and city dwellers. This is also right in the heart of Ramadan when millions are fasting from dawn till dusk.


City of Fallujah (Credit: CPL JOEL A. CHAVERRI, USMC)

High pressure is typically very strong over the Middle East in summer and every few years, it’s stronger than normal. For much of July 2015 it’s been stronger than normal and so surface temperatures in places has climbed well beyond 120 degrees (47C).

Cities stretching from Baghdad in the central region to Al Basrah in the south have had to endure multiple days above 122 degrees (50C) and with these temperatures, many sites may have tied or set new all-time records. This is brutal for even here and the government made Thursday past a national holiday in an attempt to keep many off the sweltering streets.


Interestingly, the capital, Baghdad saw temperatures top 122F or 50C during the week which appears to have tied the all-time record.

Baghdad so far in July 2015

Credit: Weather Underground

Credit: Weather Underground

Baghdad, Iraq (Credit: Robert Smith)

Baghdad, Iraq (Credit: Robert Smith)

According to data from Weather Underground, temperatures peaked this week at 124 degrees (51C) in Basra with nighttime minimums remaining at a blistering 34C (94F). The value of 51C may also be a tie for the all-time record in the port city.

Basra so far in July 2015


According to one source, temperatures in the most southerly cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah reached 53C or 127F. If that was the case, this would be a new national record high. Iraq’s official all-time record high is 52C or 126F recorded on August 2011.

For many of the 2 million Iraqi’s, air conditioning is not an option so locals spend time in rivers. Some public areas, showers are provided as a way to cool down.

Yesterday’s Extremes

Country Highs Country Lows

Going by the data, it appears to heat wave conditions shall remain for much of the rest of July.

Check out the GFS 2-metre temp forecast for each of the next 7 afternoons.

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Note towards the end of this week how the area of 120s expands, covering a large swath of Iraq. All-time records to be challenged?

Credit: AccuWeather Pro

Credit: AccuWeather Pro



Climate data for Baghdad
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.8
Average high °C (°F) 15.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.7
Average low °C (°F) 3.8
Record low °C (°F) −11.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 27.2
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.001 mm) 8 7 8 6 4 0 0 0 0 4 6 7 50
Avg. relative humidity (%) 71 61 53 43 30 21 22 22 26 34 54 71 42.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 192.2 203.3 244.9 255.0 300.7 348.0 347.2 353.4 315.0 272.8 213.0 195.3 3,240.8
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (UN)[57]

Climate[edit] via Wikipedia

Dust storms in Iraq, July 30, 2009.

The climate of Iraq is mainly a hot desert climate or a hot semi-arid climate to the northernmost part. Averages high temperatures are generally above 40 °C (104 °F) at low elevations during summer months (June, July and August) while averages low temperatures can drop to below 0 °C (32 °F) during the coldest month of the year during winter[3] The all-time record high temperature in Iraq of 52 °C (126 °F) was recorded near An Nasiriyah on 2 August 2011.[4] Most of the rainfall occurs from December through April and averages between 100 and 180 millimeters (3.9 and 7.1 in) annually. The mountainous region of northern Iraq receives appreciably more precipitation than the central or southern desert region.

Roughly 90% of the annual rainfall occurs between November and April, most of it in the winter months from December through March. The remaining six months, particularly the hottest ones of June, July, and August, are extremely dry.

Except in the north and northeast, mean annual rainfall ranges between 100 and 190 millimeters (3.9 and 7.5 in). Data available from stations in the foothills and steppes south and southwest of the mountains suggest mean annual rainfall between 320 and 570 millimeters (12.6 and 22.4 in) for that area. Rainfall in the mountains is more abundant and may reach 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) a year in some places, but the terrain precludes extensive cultivation. Cultivation on nonirrigated land is limited essentially to the mountain valleys, foothills, and steppes, which have 300 millimeters (11.8 in) or more of rainfall annually. Even in this zone, however, only one crop a year can be grown, and shortages of rain have often led to crop failures.

Mean minimum temperatures in the winter range from near freezing (just before dawn) in the northern and northeastern foothills and the western desert to 2 to 3 °C (35.6 to 37.4 °F) and 4 to 5 °C (39.2 to 41.0 °F) in the alluvial plains of southern Iraq. They rise to a mean maximum of about 16 °C (60.8 °F) in the western desert and the northeast, and 17 °C (62.6 °F) in the south. In the summer mean minimum temperatures range from about 27 to 31 °C (80.6 to 87.8 °F) and rise to maxima between roughly 41 and 45 °C (105.8 and 113.0 °F). Temperatures sometimes fall below freezing and have fallen as low as −14 °C (6.8 °F) at Ar Rutbah in the western desert. A such summer heat, even in a hot desert, is high and this can be easily explained by the very low elevations of deserts regions which experience these exceptionally searing high temperatures. In fact, the elevations of cities such as Baghdad or Basra are near the sea level (0 m) because deserts are located predominantly along the Persian Gulf. That’s why some Gulf’s countries like Iraq, Iran and Kuwait experience extreme heat during summer, even more extreme than the normal level. The searing summer heat only exists in low elevations in these countries while mountains and higher elevations know much more moderated summer temperatures.

The summer months are marked by two kinds of wind phenomena. The southern and southeasterly sharqi, a dry, dusty wind with occasional gusts of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), occurs from April to early June and again from late September through November. It may last for a day at the beginning and end of the season but for several days at other times. This wind is often accompanied by violent duststorms that may rise to heights of several thousand meters and close airports for brief periods. From mid-June to mid-September the prevailing wind, called the shamal, is from the north and northwest. It is a steady wind, absent only occasionally during this period. The very dry air brought by this shamal permits intensive sun heating of the land surface, but the breeze has some cooling effect.

The combination of rain shortage and extreme heat makes much of Iraq a desert. Because of very high rates of evaporation, soil and plants rapidly lose the little moisture obtained from the rain, and vegetation could not survive without extensive irrigation. Some areas, however, although arid, do have natural vegetation in contrast to the desert. For example, in the Zagros Mountains in northeastern Iraq there is permanent vegetation, such as oak trees, and date palms are found in the south.

Area and Boundaries[edit]

In 1922 British officials concluded the Treaty of Mohammara with Abd al Aziz ibn Abd ar Rahman Al Saud, who in 1932 formed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The treaty provided the basic agreement for the boundary between the eventually independent nations. Also in 1922 the two parties agreed to the creation of the diamond-shaped Neutral Zone of approximately 7,500 km2 (2,900 sq mi) adjacent to the western tip of Kuwait in which neither Iraq nor Saudi Arabia would build dwellings or installations. Bedouins from either country could utilize the limited water and seasonal grazing resources of the zone. In April 1975, an agreement signed in Baghdad fixed the borders of the countries.

Through Algerian mediation, Iran and Iraq agreed in March 1975 to normalize their relations, and three months later they signed a treaty known as the Algiers Accord. The document defined the common border all along the Khawr Abd Allah (Shatt) River estuary as the thalweg. To compensate Iraq for the loss of what formerly had been regarded as its territory, pockets of territory along the mountain border in the central sector of its common boundary with Iran were assigned to it. Nonetheless, in September 1980 Iraq went to war with Iran, citing among other complaints the fact that Iran had not turned over to it the land specified in the Algiers Accord. This problem has subsequently proved to be a stumbling block to a negotiated settlement of the ongoing conflict.

In 1988 the boundary with Kuwait was another outstanding problem. It was fixed in a 1913 treaty between the Ottoman Empire and British officials acting on behalf of Kuwait’s ruling family, which in 1899 had ceded control over foreign affairs to Britain. The boundary was accepted by Iraq when it became independent in 1932, but in the 1960s and again in the mid-1970s, the Iraqi government advanced a claim to parts of Kuwait. Kuwait made several representations to the Iraqis during the war to fix the border once and for all but Baghdad repeatedly demurred, claiming that the issue is a potentially divisive one that could inflame nationalist sentiment inside Iraq. Hence in 1988 it was likely that a solution would have to wait until the war ended.

total: 438,317 km2 (169,235 sq mi)
land: 437,367 km2 (168,868 sq mi)
water: 950 km2 (370 sq mi)

Land boundaries:
total: 3,809 km (2,367 mi)
border countries: Iran 1,599 km (994 mi), Saudi Arabia 811 km (504 mi), Syria 599 km (372 mi), Turkey 367 km (228 mi), Kuwait 254 km (158 mi), Jordan 179 km (111 mi)

Coastline: 58 km (36 mi)

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) continental shelf: not specified

mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Cheekah Dar 3,611 m (11,847 ft)

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: درفش کاویانی

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