A blistering heat wave has claimed hundreds of lives across southern Pakistan, mainly in Karachi. While the peak of the heat has passed, unusual warmth will persist for the foreseeable future.
The death toll from heat that has been baking southern Pakistan for days climbed on Wednesday to 838, according to the Associated Press. It is feared that the death toll could rise further with many of the sick being listed in critical condition.
In Karachi alone, 800 of those lives were lost with another 38 people perishing in other parts of Pakistan's Sindh province (where Karachi is the capital).
The deadly heat wave spanned June 18 to June 23 when temperatures in Karachi soared past 38 C (100 F) daily. June 20 was the hottest day with a high of 44.8 C (113 F).
"Highs from 33 to 35 C (lower to middle 90s) are more common for Karachi this time of year since it sits along the coast [of the Arabian Sea]," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards.
The Associated Press reports that the situation became more dangerous as residents dealing with the heat were also faced with hours-long power outages and little running water. The city suffers from an inefficient power grid and a shortage of drinkable water.
In addition, many people are fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"Since the monsoon has been slower to get into northwestern India, Karachi has been tremendously dry with intense heat," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani.
Karachi has not recorded measurable rain since mid-March, meaning that none of the sun's energy is working to evaporate moisture in the ground and all is being used for heating.
As the monsoon advances, it pushes the dome of heat across Pakistan to the north and allows more comfortable air from the Arabian Sea to stream into Karachi.
Even outside of the monsoon season, an onshore flow from the Arabian Sea can keep the heat in check in Karachi. That was largely absent late last week through early this week.
While the heat in Karachi has reached its peak, the air will remain unusually warm with temperatures rising to around 38 C (100 F) each day through at least the end of June. Little or no relief will then follow for the first part of July, according to Sagliani.
"There are no signs of the monsoon getting up into southern Pakistan through mid-July, causing temperatures in Karachi to stay above normal," he said.
The persistent warmth, combined with high humidity to create dangerously higher AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures, could put more residents at risk of suffering from a heat-related illness or death.
Anyone who must engage in strenuous outdoor activities are encouraged to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks. If possible, such activities should be avoided during the midday and afternoon hours--the hottest time of the day.