Puerto Rico will continue to experience extreme heat through Sunday » Yale Climate Connections


San Juan, Puerto Rico, experienced a record temperature of 95° June 9, according to the National Weather Service San Juan, a situation made even more dire by 100,000 power outages. That temperature was recorded at Luís Muñoz Marín International Airport in the capital of the archipelago, breaking the previous record of 94°F set in 2006.

For nine consecutive days, temperatures of over 90°F have been recorded in San Juan. The heat index was expected to reach 108°F in some areas of the island Friday.

A heat advisory is in effect and although there are no official numbers, WAPA-TV reported an increase in patients experiencing heat-related illnesses in emergency rooms in hospitals throughout Puerto Rico.

Climate change is making the Puerto Rico heat wave worse

Climate change made Friday’s hot temperatures in the San Juan area five times more likely to occur, according to a mapping tool called the Global Climate Shift Index from the nonprofit Climate Central.

In a tweet June 9, Ada Monzón, chief meteorologist at WAPA-TV wrote, “Everything on the planet is connected. The high temperatures and extreme heat that we are experiencing in #puertorico is related to the Atlantic Ocean temperature anomalies that are at record levels.”

She added that these temperatures are unprecedented, which is in part due to high relative humidity making it feel even hotter. Monzón advised that everyone take precautionary measures to avoid heat stroke and exhaustion, as well as ensure the safety of pets during these conditions.

Unlike under normal meteorological conditions, when temperatures cool significantly after sunset, heat is persisting overnight. According to Yale Climate Connections contributor Bob Henson, four nights in the past nine have tied for a monthly record-warm low of 82°F.

“That’s just one degree below San Juan’s all-time warm daily minimum of 83°F, set on several days across various months and years,” he said. He added that the next couple of afternoons will actually feel cooler than average, ​“but the very moist air will keep nighttime lows near record territory, which probably helps explain the continued heat advisories through Sunday.”

A situation made worse by an unreliable electric grid

Over 100,000 LUMA clients have lost power during these record-breaking temperatures, according to Puerto Rican journalist Bianca Gaulau. Yale Climate Connections could not independently verify these numbers on PowerOutage.us because LUMA requested that the site stop pulling data for Puerto Rico “until they are able to replace their technology and provide more accurate data.”

LUMA is the archipelago’s electricity company, which was privatized two years ago. Since taking over, LUMA has been harshly criticized by residents for price hikes and unreliable service. In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, thousands remained without power for days. Many have worried that high use of air conditioning units could overload the failing grid due causing mass black and brown outs. They were proven right.

For resources on how to identify and prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, click on the links below.

Heat waves are silent killers » Yale Climate Connections

How to spot the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion » Yale Climate Connections


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