Extreme Heat Provokes Cities Break Temperature Records in Mexico

Blackouts lasting several hours were reported in some areas of the country due to the high demand for electricity.
a civil protection agent gives a bottle of water
Members of the Civil Protection Agency deliver bottles of cold water during the heat wave in Monterrey. (Photo: Daniel Becerril / Reuters)

Ten cities in Mexico, including the capital, broke temperature records last week amid an unusual heat wave that is engulfing the country, which has caused deaths, blackouts, and pushed the country’s power grid to the brink over several days.

High temperatures caused the deaths of seven people nationwide just within the period of March 17 to May 4, 2024.

Heatwave-related deaths were reported in Tabasco, where four people died; in Oaxaca, where two people died; and in Chiapas, with one, as well as a total record of 337 cases of heat-related conditions, according to the Weekly Epidemiological Surveillance Report.

However, local media outlets in San Luis Potosí reported the deaths of at least 10 people from heat stroke on the evening of May 9 and the morning of May 10, after the Huasteca Potosina reached a temperature of 55 Celsius degrees.

The main effects recorded by the Ministry of Health include suffering from non-lethal heat exhaustion, followed by dehydration, as well as burns.

extreme heat in mexico
The Ministry of Health has reported 14 cases of burns associated with extreme temperatures in one week. (Photo: Reuters)

Record Temperatures in Several Cities

The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) reported on Friday that Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas, on the border with the United States, recorded a temperature of 47.4°C the previous day, above its previous high of 46.0°C set in May 1998.

In Mexico City, a valley with a population of around 10 million people, thermometers set a new record of 34.3°C, a tenth of a degree higher than its previous record set on April 15, 2024.

Neighboring Puebla broke the longest-held record on the list of 34.3°C, which dated back to 1947. On Friday May 10, the touristic colonial city reached 35.2°C.

Toluca in the State of Mexico reached 33.6°C on May 9, 2024, while its previous record of 31.9°C dated back to May 8, 1998.

Querétaro reached a new record of 38.2°C on May 9, 2024, with its previous record temperature from May 20, 2003, being 37.6°C.

Blackouts in Several Parts of the Country

The intense heat, which is related to climate change, also prompted blackouts lasting several hours on May 7 in some areas of Mexico, mainly in the north. Furthermore, classes were suspended in at least San Luis Potosí, which this week reached 50°C.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador described the blackouts as “exceptional” and assured that Mexico has sufficient generation capacity.

As the national electricity system has been under pressure this week, demand in some parts of the country has exceeded supply at times.

According to its own data, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) supplies electricity to more than 99% of the population.

Although the company generates the largest amount of energy in the country, it also purchases this from private generators. The government is the only operator authorized to transmit electricity in Mexico.

At least five heat waves have been predicted between March and July 2024. (With information from Reuters)

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