A heatwave in Turkey has brought what could be “the hottest May in the last 77 years”, climate expert Prof Dr Doğan Yaşar from Dokuz Eylül Special School said. Temperatures are now seven degrees above average for this time of the year, with Ankara due to hit 32C in the coming days, Istanbul 33C and Izmir 36C, while asphalt has been spotted melting in the Aegean province of Denizli.
Footage of a five-kilometre stretch of pavement on a main road in the province melting due to the heat is reflective of the scorching temperatures that have the nation in recent days.
But considering roads with a reasonable amount of traffic usually start softening at 50C, how can Turkey’s be causing trouble at just above 30C?
Air temperatures are typically measured in the shade and anything up to 2 metres above the ground. This means the temperature in direct sunlight and directly on the ground can be significantly higher.
Further, dark road material can absorb a lot of heat.
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The air temperature at any given place could, for instance, be 19.2C while the road temperature could be 47.2C.
Some experts link Turkey’s high temperatures in May to the La Niña, a climate pattern that impacts weather worldwide.
After Prof Dr Doğan Yaşar told İhlas News Agency on Sunday that this could be the hottest May in decades, meteorological engineer Güven Özdemir said: “This year, La Niña is very strong, and its effects are persistent.”
On Monday, thermometers hiked up to 39C during the day, with the Met Office advising visitors to wear loose, light-coloured cotton clothing, drink plenty of water and avoid legal drug and sugary drinks.
A slight dip is expected on Wednesday, with the weather set to remain stable and largely unchanged throughout the rest of the week.
Southern Spain’s Andalusia community was cooled down by an Atlantic storm on Monda. From Tuesday, however, temperatures are set to rise again due to the arrival of a mass of hot air.
According to Jesus Riesco, spokesperson for the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), a rise of five to six degrees is due to hit the region, reaching 35C in the inner provinces.
He said: “The rise will be generalised throughout the region due to a change in air mass.
“We cannot determine if there will be a heatwave during the month of June, but we can say that it will be quite hot.”
Earlier this month, the temperature in the city of Jaen climbed to 38.7C — 15C above the seasonal average — in a record for the month of May.
This was caused by a mass of hot, dry air carrying dust from North Africa, which pushed the mercury to 40C in some areas.
State Meteorological Agency spokesman Ruben del Campo said those were “among the warmest temperatures we’ve seen in May in the 21st century”.