EXTREME weather conditions have been the source of major concerns for various countries around the world, though for contrasting reasons. While extreme cold in the United States of America has claimed dozens of life, extreme heat is doing same in Australia.
The BBC reports that at least 21 people have died in one of the worst cold snaps to hit the US Midwest in decades. Ninety million people – a third of the US – have seen temperatures of -17 degrees Celcius or below. About 250 million Americans have experience sub-zero conditions, the report added.
A 60-year-old homeless woman was found dead in an abandoned house in Lorain, Ohio. Also, an 18-year-old student was found unresponsive a short walk from his dormitory on Wednesday and later died in hospital. Some people were found dead a short walk away from their homes.
Reports say the present weather conditions could cost the US billions of dollars. In 2014, a similar polar freeze cost the country an estimated $5 billion according to a CBS News report.
Conversely, Australia recorded its hottest month ever in January, with average temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celcius for the first time, another report by the BBC read.
The heat has caused wildfire deaths, bushfires and a rise in hospital admissions. Several wildlife species have also suffered, with reports of mass deaths of wild horses, native bats and fish in drought-affected areas.
Even the Australia Open, one of the five major Tennis tournaments, was affected as play had to be delayed several times due to severe hot weather.
Australia has increasingly endured hotter summer temperatures. Last year Sydney experienced its hottest day since 1939, with a maximum temperature of 47.3 degrees Celsius.
“The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than one degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” said Andrew Watkins, a climatologist.
Parts of eastern Australia suffered their worst drought in recent history last year, while thousands of Australians fled their homes when bushfires swept through Queensland in November.
Officials have confirmed that 2018 and 2017 were Australia’s third and fourth-hottest years on record respectively.
Scientists say more drastic weather changes are to be expected across the world as a result of climate change and global warming. Natural disasters such as floodings, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions are happening at a more frequent rate than ever, experts say, warning that efforts should be intensified to tackle climate change.