China heat wave: Beware of 'spontaneously' combusting trees and billboards - Yahoo! News: For the past few weeks Beijing has been either a furnace or a sauna, depending on the rain, as China endures its hottest summer in more than half a century. The press is full of the most alarming stories as the country sweats through its second major heat wave this year. In the southern city of Wuhan, witnesses last weekend reported seeing a willow tree spontaneously burst into flames, “which rarely happens under normal circumstances,” according to a local forestry expert. In the eastern province of Zhejiang the same thing happened to a billboard, which presumably is equally unusual. I myself have sometimes felt I was about to go up in flames recently, and I am not alone. The Chinese National Meteorological Center announced that temperatures had exceeded 95 degrees Fahrenheit in eight provinces on more than 25 of the previous 41 days. It hasn’t been that hot here since 1961. For the first time ever the government has declared the heat to be a level two weather emergency – a warning normally reserved for typhoons and floods – amid reports that more than 40 people have died from the high temperatures.
Weather Extremes : Japan Breaks National Heat Record. Chinese Heat Wave Continues | Weather Underground: An all-time national heat record was set in Japan today (August 12th) when the temperature peaked at 41.0°C (105.8°F) at the Ekawasaki site in Shimanto (part of Kochi Prefecture). The previous record of 40.9°C (105.6°F) was recorded at Tajima and Kumagaya on August 16, 2007. Tokyo endured its warmest daily minimum on August 11th with a low of 30.4°C (86.7°F). This was the 2nd warmest minimum on record for Japan following a minimum of 30.8°C (87.4°F) at Itoigawa on August 22, 1990. On Sunday, August 11th, the temperature peaked at 42.7°C (108.9°F) at Shengxian, its hottest temperature measured so far during the heat wave. At Hangzhou the temperature reached 41.1°C (106.0°F) on August 11th and 40.3°C (104.5°F) on August 12th marking the 12th day since July 24th that the city surpassed or tied its previous all-time record high of 40.3° set on August 1, 2003. Eastern China, where about 30% of the population of the country and 5% of the global population reside (approximately 400 million people) has undergone a heat wave unprecedented in its history. No one really knows how many have died as a result of the heat wave (Chinese news sources claim ‘about two dozen’), but statistically it is almost certain that many thousands must have perished as the result of the heat over the past month.