Iraqi weather service warns of brutal heat wave, with 124 degrees ahead

Iraq typically faces brutal heat in the summers and endemic electricity outages make life even harder when temperatures soar. Those who can escape to cooler spots in neighboring countries, while those who can’t afford a trip abroad stay indoors or go swimming in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s weather service warned Thursday that temperatures will increase next week in most parts of the country, with the highs expected to reach 51 degrees Celsius, or about 124 degrees Fahrenheit, adding to the daily woes of Iraqi citizens already facing a deteriorated security situation and lack of public services.

The country typically faces brutal heat in the summers and endemic electricity outages make life even harder when temperatures soar. Those who can escape to cooler spots in neighboring countries, while those who can’t afford a trip abroad stay indoors or go swimming in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

In some public places, showers and water spray cooling fans have been set up for those who want to cool down, and some street vendors and taxi drivers keep wet handkerchiefs on their heads. Carts for watermelon, ice cream and cold drinks are seen on almost every street corner.

Chief weather forecaster Haider Habib told The Associated Press that Thursday’s temperature hit 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 Fahrenheit, in three areas in southern Iraq. The cities of Basra and Maysan saw the hottest temperatures in July, registering 52 degrees Celsius, or 125 Fahrenheit, last month.

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Last year, temperatures reached 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 degrees Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in Basra, prompting the government to announce a two-day mandatory holiday.

Unlike other countries in the region, Iraq lacks tourism destinations where people can spend time to escape the sweltering heat, leaving the majority of Iraqis with limited options, such as traveling to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region or swimming in the rivers and irrigation canals or killing time inside air-conditioned shopping malls or staying inside the home.

Exacerbating their sufferings is the shabby electricity situation, which in past years has led to protests, with some turning bloody after security forced opened fire.

The unmerciful heat and humidity in Basra has slashed by more than half the income of Hussain Hazim, a photographer who roams the…

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