Everyone likes to win awards, but Iran’s 159-degree heat index is either tied or on the verge of breaking a world record that most countries would rather take a pass on.
Is this a sign of the solar storms science has been warning readers about lately or another instance of global warming? In fact, this is one of the highest heat indexes ever recorded — although many headlines have reported this information in a somewhat misleading way.
For example, the Washington Post reported the following on July 30.
“In the city of Bandar Mahshahr [near Basra, Iraq, Kuwait City, and Abadan, Iran] the air felt like a searing 154 degrees today, factoring in the humidity. Its actual air temperature was 109 degrees with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32.2 Celsius). (If you use NOAA’s calculator, that actually computes to a heat index of 159 degrees).”
The Washington Post stated the correct information in the article, but the title where they mentioned Iran is “near” breaking a record is not necessarily true. Instead, Iran is actually tied with Saudi Arabia or in the process of breaking the current world heat index record at 159 degrees.
There is also a popular claim online that the “highest heat index ever recorded in the world was 172 degrees at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003. The actual temperature was 108 degrees.”
This claim is actually wrong — and the correct heat index world record information can be found in a CNN article published on July 22, 2011 via fact-checking, research-writing trivia nerds: Mental Floss. They state that the highest heat index record is from a book published by Christopher C. Burt and Mark Stroud called Extreme Weather.