North America has been sweating itself dry under a massive heat dome covering two-thirds of the United States and even reaching southern Canada — and this isn’t the only region suffering from such intense heat. The majority of the world is experiencing similar heat waves:
- Northern Siberia, an area commonly known for its bitter cold, saw temperatures reach into the 90s (Fahrenheit) this past week
- Africa, specifically Ouargla in Algeria, may have experienced the “hottest temperature ever reliably measured” at 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit
- Shannon, Ireland; Belfast; Castlederg; and Glasgow, Scotland each achieved all-time highs
In fact, Scotland’s scorching heat has been hot enough to melt roofs off buildings. Glasgow’s Science Centre’s weatherproof membrane was apparently not equipped to handle the nearly 90 degree day as the building began “sweating out streaks of black goo”. Although unsightly, the structural integrity of the roof was not compromised.
Sticky But Not Sweet
Most pavers use a substance called bitumen instead of tar when they are paving roads. Bitumen is “viscoelastic”, meaning it reacts to intense heat, which is how it gets laid out to begin with. Unfortunately, extreme temperatures can reactivate the bitumen in roads, causing traffic to “pick up” the road surface. Reports of tires sticking to melting roads in England have been enough to force out gritters — the same machines that spread salt on the roads during the icy winter –which have now been recruited to dump aggregate (usually very small rocks) onto the sticky surfaces. One man in Newcastle even managed to get his entire foot stuck in the melting mess.
Darn Hot Down Under
Australia has been experiencing a bit of its own bitumen disaster, as a road in north Queensland was forced to close down after cars began sinking into the viscous material. One driver, whose tires were so coated that they actually flew off of her vehicle, snapping off her mud guard bar in the process, described the experience: “It was like we were insects caught in a spider’s web and we were sinking.”
The tires were so thoroughly coated — some with several inches worth of thick bitumen — that they needed to be replaced entirely, as cleaning them was simply impossible. With 77% of cars already in need of maintenance or repairs at any given time, this kind of extra damage could be absolutely debilitating, both financially and in terms of mobility.
With so many unbelievable heat-related experiences occurring every day around the world, it’s a miracle we haven’t all burst into flame. And, of course, summer is just getting started.