A worker cools off while working in a street during a heatwave in Sevilla, in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, on July 17, 2023. Scorching weather gripped three continents, whipping up wildfires and threatening to topple temperature records as the dire consequences of global warming take shape. Little reprieve is forecast for Spain, where the met agency warned of a new heatwave on July 17 through July 19 taking temperatures above 40C in the Canary Islands and the southern Andalusia region.
Image Credit: AFP

July 2023 will go down as the hottest month on record across the globe, and perhaps the hottest in at least 120,000 years, according to climate scientists.

During this sweltering month for the planet, countless daily, monthly and all-time record high temperatures were reached in multiple regions, often concurrently.

A rash of intense heat domes - zones of high pressure sprawled across the northern hemisphere - plagued Asia, southern Europe and northern Africa, North America and much of the tropics including the Caribbean. Extreme heat was even observed on several occasions across the southern hemisphere, where it is the middle of winter.

In China, an enduring heatwave continued, with temperatures above 35℃ (95F). China is experiencing its latest scorching heat wave less than two weeks after temperatures broke records in Beijing. [In pic: People shelter from the sun under an umbrella as they arrive to visit the Forbidden City during a heatwave in Beijing.] AFP Image Credit: AFP

China registered an all-time high temperature for the country of 126 degrees (52.2 degrees Celsius), while the July 16 high of 128 degrees (53.3 Celsius) in Death Valley, Calif., was two degrees shy of the highest reliably measured temperature on Earth. Numerous countries surpassed 122 degrees (50 Celsius) for highs. In the Middle East, the heat index reached 152 degrees (66.7 Celsius), near the limit of human survival.

In some cases, daily heat records have been strung together into record-long streaks, including 31 straight days reaching 110 degrees (43.3 Celsius) or higher in Phoenix, 44 days at or above 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius) in El Paso and 46 straight days with a heat index over 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius) in Miami.


Remarkably, both the southernmost and northernmost cities in the continental United States had their warmest July and warmest month on record. At the northern tip of Alaska, Utqiagvik - formerly Barrow - averaged 48.4 degrees (9.1 Celsius), 6.2 degrees (3.4 Celsius) above the norm. Meanwhile, at the southern tip of Florida, Key West averaged 87.7 degrees (30.9 Celsius), 2.3 degrees (1.3 Celsius) above the norm.

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FILE - Charles Sanders, 59, right, pauses as Kevin Hendershot, 47, pours ice into a bucket outside their tent in "The Zone" homeless encampment, Friday, July 14, 2023, in downtown Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York, File) Image Credit: AP

July is typically the hottest month of the year in the northern hemisphere. Add in a developing El Nio, the cyclical warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that adds heat to the atmosphere, temperatures leaped to new heights in many areas. Furthermore, human-caused climate change is making heat waves more frequent, intense, larger and longer-lasting.

Since early summer, multiple heat domes have spread across large portions of the northern hemisphere, including four during July that baked the southern US and northern Mexico, southern Europe and northern Africa, Asia and the Atlantic Ocean.

The heat dome in southern Europe and northern Africa, helped push the Mediterranean Sea to record warm levels. To the east, a migrating heat dome meant waves of punishing hot weather over China and East Asia. Over the far north, the hot and dry weather that has fueled Canada's worst wildfire season on record continued.

A girl selling water on a hot summer day, in New Delhi, India. Image Credit: Reuters

In Phoenix and the southwestern US, a sprawling heat dome persisted occasionally swelling northeastward and engulfing much of the Lower 48. An extension of the never-ending heat also draped itself across Florida, central America and into the Caribbean.

Records for extreme warmth were set basically all over the globe, on land and over the oceans. The heat was particularly intense in East Asia, southern Europe into North Africa, Canada and America, as well as the Caribbean.

China started off July by setting all-time highs. Readings of 109.9 degrees (43.3 Celsius) in Jingxing and Lanzhou were observed during the first week among a slew of records. Another extended run of extreme heat arrived mid-month, bringing Hong Kong near all-time highs, with additional scorchers dotting the region as July closed. Beijing has posted a record number of days at or above 95 degrees (35 Celsius).


Japan also witnessed all-time highs early and late in the month and its hottest July on record. Tokyo reached at least 95 degrees 13 times, the most of any month on record. It ended the month with eight such days in a row, its second-longest streak, according to local meteorologist Sayaka Mori.

When it reached 118.8 degrees (48.2 Celsius) on July 24, the Italian island of Sardinia matched southern Europe's hottest July day on record. In Figueres, Spain, it hit 113.5 degrees (45.3 Celsius) several days earlier - the hottest it's ever been in the Catalonia region.

The heat in southern Europe surged north from Africa. Algeria saw numerous records fall, including the capital of Algiers reaching 119.7 degrees (48.7 Celsius) on the 23rd, beating its previous high mark set on the 11th. In Tunisia, Tunis reached 120.2 degrees (49 Celsius) posting an all-time record, among several other cities.

People take shelter from the sun under a traffic light in Kuwait City on July 30, 2023, amidst a heatwave. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP) Image Credit: AFP

High temperatures topped 120 degrees (50 Celsius) during July in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, China, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Death Valley reached 128 degrees (53.3 degrees), a few shy of its highest on record, and had a midnight temperature of 120 degrees (48.9 Celsius), the highest ever observed at that hour anywhere on Earth.

Extreme warmth reached far to the north, including Norman Wells, in Canada's Northwest Territories at 100.2 degrees (37.9 Celsius) and Yekaterinburg, Russia at 104 degrees (40 Celsius). It also roasted the Caribbean, no stranger to heat. All-time maximums were observed in Cuba at 99 degrees (37.2 Celsius) in Guria de Melena, Barahona in the Dominican Republic, and into Central America where San Miguel set a July record for that part of the continent.

In addition to all the very hot daytime temperatures, historically warm overnight lows were also prevalent. All-time warm minimums were set in Russian Siberia and northern Quebec in Canada. Palermo, Italy, only fell to 97 degrees (36.2 Celsius) in the late-month heat spell, Europe's warmest low on record. Somehow even that was topped by a 103.1 degree low (39.5 Celsius) in the Canary Islands and 100.9 degrees (38.3 Celsius) in Algeria.

Every day of the month featured dozens of record highs for both high and low temperatures in the United States. Of the long-term stations tracked by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, there were more than 3,200 in total. Record warm lows outnumbered record highs by a few hundred. Both spiked above 100 per day at times during the second half of the month.

Multiple stations with 100 years or more of continuous data saw exceptional numbers of calendar day record highs during the month. There were 12 recorded in El Paso as well as Phoenix, 10 in Tucson, eight in Brownsville, Tex., and Flagstaff, Ariz., and seven in Miami.

A homeless person lies on the sidewalk while holding a water bottle in downtown Los Angeles. Excessive heat warnings remain in place in many areas across the US and are expected to last at least through July 2, 2023. Image Credit: AP

Among the hundreds of calendar day record-warm low temperatures, 16 were set in Phoenix, 13 in Key West, 13 in Baton Rouge and nine in Del Rio, Tex., and Albuquerque. All-time record-warm lows were set in Phoenix (97 degrees, 36.1 Celsius), Salt Lake City (82 degrees, 27.8 Celsius) and Albuquerque (79 degrees, 26.1 Celsius).

Phoenix became the first major American city to average 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius) or higher for a full month.

Numerous locations across the Desert Southwest, Texas, the Gulf Coast and much of Florida saw their hottest July on record. Some locations that set records include: Phoenix (102.7 degrees, 39.3 Celsius), El Paso (91.6 degrees, 32.8 Celsius), Baton Rouge (87.8 degrees, 31 Celsius), and Tampa and Miami (both at 86.5 degrees, 30.3 Celsius).

While temperatures are beginning to cool from their annual peaks in much of the northern hemisphere, the unrelenting hot pattern is poised to roll onward.

Despite brief pauses in the worst heat in the Southwest United States, warmer-than-normal weather is probable through August in the region, as it is in East Asia and Japan, as well as North Africa and southern Europe.