A city in Iran has experienced what is believed to be history’s second highest temperature ever as a blistering heatwave lingered over the Middle East.
The air in Bandar Mahshahr in the Persian Gulf recorded a sweltering “heat index” of 74°C (165°F) last Friday.
A heat index is a measure of how hot it “feels” to the body – it uses humidity and air temperature to calculate the apparent temperature experienced by the body.
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Bandar Mahshahr clocked an air temperature of 46°C (115°F) and a dewpoint temperature of 32°C (90°F), creating a heat index of 165°F. A dewpoint temperature is an indication of the level of humidity.
Though there are no official records on heat indexes, Bandar Mahshahr’s 165°F registers as the second highest ever recorded – 178°F in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2003 is the highest ever recorded, when there was an air temperature of 42°C (108°F) and a dewpoint temperature of 35°C (95°F).
For reference, the hottest air temperature ever recorded was in California’s Death Valley in July, 1913 – a baking 56.7°C (134°F).
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Since the recent agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, the country’s tourism industry has been optimistic of welcoming more visitors to the city, despite the eye-watering temperatures.
The ancient city and port of Bandar Mahshahr sits on the coast in the south-west corner of Iran, where water temperatures are regularly in the 30s. The oppressive levels of humidity are thanks to wind blowing off the hot water.
Elsewhere in the region, Jask, also in Iran on the Persian Gulf, observed a heat index of 156°F. While Baghdad in Iraq experienced a heat index of 115°F, with a temperature of 50°C (122°F).
The Iraqi government ordered a four-day public holiday to help people deal with the heatwave. The heatwave has now subsided, though Bandar Mahshahr will still experience highs of 47°C this week.