| 26 February 2024, Monday |

‘Furnace’: Argentina roasts in record-setting heat wave

Argentina is experiencing a historic heat wave, with temperatures reaching beyond 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), making it the world’s hottest country for a time, straining electricity networks and driving citizens to seek refuge in the shade.

With temperatures in areas of the South American nation reaching 45°C (113°F), power networks in and around the huge capital city of Buenos Aires collapsed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without energy.

“When I got home, we didn’t have electricity, and the house was a furnace,” Jose Casabal, 42, recalled, as he hurried his children away to find a cool place. “So I took them to their grandmother’s place to swim in the pool,” says the narrator.

The temperatures in Argentina, where dry hot weather driven by the La Nina weather pattern is already hitting crops, meant that for several hours it was the hottest place on earth, taking over from parts of Australia that cooled during its night.

“Even early morning it was very hot, around 31 degrees,” said Gustavo Barrios, 34, from Tigre as he sat in the shadow of some trees. “I do not have air conditioning at home and we were with just the fan blowing hot air. It’s unbearable.”

Local leaders warned residents to stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the day, wear light clothes and stay hydrated.

“We have to be very careful these days,” said Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta.

Meteorologist Lucas Berengua said that the heat wave was off the charts and could set records in the country.

“This is a heat wave of extraordinary characteristics, with extreme temperature values ​​that will even be analyzed after its completion, and it may generate some historical records for Argentina temperatures and persistence of heat,” he said.

For some it raised questions about climate change and more extreme weather. Argentina in recent years has seen unusual amounts of wild fires around its main river delta and the major Parana River drop to a nearly 80-year low water level.

“I was always born here in a temperate climate and I saw how the temperature changed over the years, and it is not what we’re used to,” said Marta Lorusso, 59, an architect.

“This with the low pressure really kills me, I can’t stand it. I drink liters of water and do what I can. And on top of it all, without electricity. I don’t know what to do.”

  • Reuters