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Heat Wave Breaks Records In Iran, Caucasus, Causes Power Shortages

An Iranian man dealing with the heat

An intense heat wave is shattering temperature records in Iran and the Caucasus nations of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, causing power shortages that are adding to discomfort in the region.

Weather experts on July 6 said the heat wave is the result of a high-pressure dome or heat dome that formed over the Eurasian region and reaches as far north as southern Russia, where temperatures hit a record high for June on June 28.

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, temperatures soared to a record of 41 (106 F)degrees Celsius on July 4, contributing to unhealthy air pollution levels reported by the National Environmental Agency.

Earlier in the week, on July 1, temperatures hit a record 43 degrees in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, prompting heavy use of air-conditioning that the government said caused an explosion at a hydroelectric power plant and a nationwide power outage.

It was the worst power outage since Azerbaijani independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

A day later, temperatures soared to a record high 42 degrees in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, while Iran experienced its hottest July temperature ever -- 53 degrees (127.5 F) -- causing misery and power shortages and prompting the government to change work hours in Tehran to save electricity.

The consumption of electrical power in Iran on July 2 hit 56,672 megawatts, a historical high, officials said.

Tehran Province announced that all government agencies and offices, banks, municipalities, and other public nongovernmental organizations would start work at 6 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. The schedule was to be in effect until July 22.

Iranian officials said that Tehran Province’s power demand increases by about 150-200 megawatts with each one degree rise in temperature.

Tehran in recent days has also experienced rolling blackouts and a shortage of water to keep power stations running, officials said.

In the cities of Kermanshah, Ardabil, and Isfahan, traffic lights and elevators stopped working as the heat caused several hours-long power outages.

Some Iranian provinces have announced a schedule of rolling blackouts that will leave residents without power for two hours every day.

The misery hasn't been confined to Eurasia. Weather trackers say temperatures have been surging to record highs from North America to Europe and the Middle East.

An intense heat wave in Canada has caused 33 deaths in the province of Quebec, where the mostly elderly victims passed away in homes that lacked air-conditioning.

While individual weather events cannot be tied directly to global warming, scientists say the gradual warming of the planet caused by greenhouse gases likely is behind the uptick in heat waves.

"Heat waves like this are likely to be more frequent going forward than they have been in the past," Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for the private forecasting service Weather Underground, told AP.

With reporting by AP, The Independent, and