Reeling from one heat wave, Mexico awaits ‘highest temperatures ever recorded’

By Thomson Reuters May 22, 2024 | 9:54 PM

By Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Brendan O’Boyle

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico, reeling from a heat wave that has already broken records, caused power outages and killed people and animals, could see “unprecedented” temperatures over the next two weeks, the country’s largest university warned on Wednesday.

The extreme heat, fueled partly by the most recent El Nino weather phenomenon, will arrive with 70% of Mexico in drought and a third in severe drought, according to data from the national water commission.

“In the next 10 to 15 days, the country will experience the highest temperatures ever recorded,” researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said in a statement.

Temperatures in the capital could reach a record 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next two weeks, said Jorge Zavala, director of UNAM’s Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Change.

Most of the metropolitan area’s 21 million residents – accustomed to more temperate weather – lack air conditioning. Earlier this month, the capital was one of at least ten cities in Mexico that registered their hottest day on record.

Mexican health ministry data shows at least 26 people have died from heat-related causes between the start of the hot season on March 17 and May 11.

The heat has also taken a toll on some threatened species, including howler monkeys, which have been dying from suspected dehydration in southern Mexico.

In the city of Leon in the central state of Guanajuato on Tuesday, a caretaker provided water for geese and ducks after a nearby dam reservoir dried up.

“We have to help them a little because they suffer,” said Carlos Cuevas, the caretaker.

Under a tent near the parched reservoir, Alfonso Cortes, a local Catholic archbishop, led a mass for rain as parishioners fanned themselves in the heat.

“We are going to pray that the Lord will send our state and all human beings the gift of water,” Cortes said.

“Everything revolves around our life and water.”

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez Fernandez and Brendan O’Boyle in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Reuters TV in Leon, Mexico; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by Tom Hogue)