20231115 rio de janeiro
A man cools down in a fountain during a heatwave in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image Credit: Reuters

Sao Paulo: A heat wave that has settled over large parts of Brazil sent temperatures on Tuesday soaring in Rio de Janeiro to levels more akin to an oven.

Thermometers read 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) but that didn't convey the intensity of the heat, authorities said.

In Rio, it felt like 58.5 degrees C (137.3 degrees F).

That was the "feels like" temperature, a measurement of how hot or cold it feels like on the skin, depending on humidity, temperature and wind speed.

It marked "the highest thermal sensation since the beginning of records" in 2014, surpassing highs of last February of 58 degrees C, according to the Rio Alerta system.

Fifteen states in the southeast, center-west and part of the north of the country, in addition to the capital, Brasilia, remained under alert by the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) due to extreme heat.

The extreme heat also hit Sao Paulo residents, where thermometers rose to an average of 37.3 degrees C on Tuesday afternoon, with a low humidity of 21 percent, according to the municipal Climate Emergency Management Center (CGE).

Unseasonably high temperatures, around 5 degrees C above seasonal normal, have been punishing Brazilians especially since last weekend and will remain until Friday, Inmet estimated in a bulletin issued on Monday.

Sweltering heat sent electric power consumption soaring to record levels, the National Electric System Operator said.

As a consequence of the phenomenon known as El Nino, Brazil has suffered in recent months the impact of extreme weather, with a historic drought that has emptied rivers in the Amazon and intense rains accompanied by cyclones in the south of the country.

In addition, fires caused mainly by human action in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, have been aggravated in November by an exceptional drought.