Interstate 77 in Noble County, Ohio, buckled Wednesday afternoon, and officials are blaming the blazing summer heat. Photos of the area about 40 miles from the West Virginia border show a horizontal line of broken up pavement. The Cleveland Patch reports that the crumbling of the stretch of Interstate 77 forced the closure of northbound lanes between Macksburg and Caldwell on July 4, while crews were called in from their holiday break to apply a temporary cold patch. The work took about two hours, and the lanes have now been reopened.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has committed to a permanent fix at a later date. Ashley Rittenhouse of ODOT said the I-77 breakage was one of two incidents of roadways buckling on the holiday. The other was in Washington County and closed one lane of traffic. Temperatures in the area climbed into the 90s Wednesday with heat indexes breaking the 100 degree mark.
Ohio isn’t alone in its record-breaking temperatures this summer. ABC News reports that through Tuesday, 227 records for highest temperatures on specific days were broken in the United States. An additional 157 records were tied. With little cooling overnight, records are also being set for the highest low temperature this year. So far, 451 of those records have been broken, and 421 have been tied.
The intense heat stretches around the globe with Tblisi, the capital of the country of Georgia, reaching 105 on Wednesday, and Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, climbing to a blistering 109 degrees on Sunday. Iran had its hottest day on record on Monday when it hit 127 degrees.
Experts hesitate to attribute this summer’s record-breaking temps on global warming, but Matthew Rosencrans of the National Weather Service indicates that climate change does mean that “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, explained that when a planet is warming, it’s easier for thermometers to climb into record territory. Currently, 2016 is the hottest year on record worldwide. It’s also the year that saw the most new records set for high temperatures.
There is a bit of relief in sight with a cold front heading for the Midwest and Northeast Friday through Sunday, but California will get their turn with extreme heat on those same days. Los Angeles is expected to hit 102 degrees on Friday. Next week will be a scorcher across the country, but temperatures, while still above average, will fall closer to average for the last two weeks of July.