"Heat Dome" in the Middle East Is Ravaging Region's Residents

August 4th 2015

The heat in countries across the Middle East has been unbearable this past week, and it doesn't show signs of relenting any time soon, according to the Weather Channel. From Iraq to the United Arab Emirates, the so-called "heat dome" has wreaked havoc on power grids and led to water cuts for many in the region.

The "heat dome" has put millions at risk of developing heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and sun stroke. It has forced people to seek shelter and wade in makeshift swimming pools, and the record-breaking heat has also led to dozens of hospitalizations.

To better understand the extremity of the current weather situation, the first thing you should know is the term "heat index." The heat index is a way of measuring what the temperature actually feels like: the heat index in Bandar Mahshahr, Iran registered a staggering 164 degrees Fahrenheit, over the weekend.

Extreme weather might be more common to the region than elsewhere on the globe, such as North America (which is also experiencing one of the hottest years on record). However, recent conditions have proved particularly dangerous. In Iraq, the government even imposed a four-day mandatory holiday in response to the heat wave.

"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," Anthony Sagliana, a climatologist at AccuWeather, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Believe it or not, it is always very humid in these places surrounding the Persian Gulf during the summer, but the nature of the extreme heat wave is causing some of the highest combinations of heat and humidity ever observed," Sagliana continued.

Here are some other samples of the worst hot spots in the region, compiled by BuzzFeed News.

Baghdad, Iraq

On July 30, the temperature soared to 124 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Jericho, West Bank

On August 2, the temperature was 96 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of 127 degrees.

Sidon, Lebanon

On August 3, the temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of approximately 136 degrees.

Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip

On July 31, the temperature was 101 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of approximately 137 degrees.

The summer heat wave has done more than strain the electrical and water resources of countries in this region: it has put millions of people at risk.

"Those who can afford to, cool off at the city’s private beaches or swimming pools," the Guardian reported. "Those who can’t are directing their anger at their failing government and in particular the [Lebanon's] provider, Electricité du Liban, which has said it will ration supplies amid ongoing repairs at its power plants."

But that doesn't help the region's refugees currently seeking shelter, or the estimated 14 million Iraqis who have been displaced by ongoing conflict. The foreign minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan area, Falah Mustafa Bakir, emphasized that point on Friday, calling attention to the 1.4 million refugees currently seeking shelter around the country.

"Just imagine [the situation] for those who are in the open air facing dehydration," he told reporters on Friday. "We have been calling for a summer-ization program, together with the U.N., but we did not receive enough funds."

The highest heat index on record occurred in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2003. It registered 178 degrees Fahrenheit.

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