Record Kuwait heat for Guard soldiers

A group of soldiers walk along the road at sunset in Taji,

A group of soldiers walk along the road at sunset in Taji,

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gregory Backus described the recent record-breaking heat wave in Kuwait — including an Eastern Hemisphere high temperature record — with a sweltering analogy.

“Imagine the hottest day in Las Vegas out on the hot pavement ... that’s about our average daily high temp,” Backus, a Nevada Army National Guard soldier and Sparks resident, said in an electronic message from deployment in Kuwait. “Then add a bunch of random humidity. It’s like getting slapped in the face with one of those hot, steamy, rags they give you on a long flight.”

According to Dr. Jeff Masters and historian Christopher Burt of Weather Underground, the temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21 topped out at 129.2 degrees. If verified, it would be the Earth’s hottest official temperature recording outside of Death Valley, Calif., and the hottest in the Eastern Hemisphere, according to Weather Underground.

Backus is one of more than 250 Nevada Army National Guard soldiers of the 17th Sustainment Brigade deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The brigade, headquartered stateside in Las Vegas with soldiers from around Nevada, is providing logistical support throughout U.S. Central Command in the Middle East.

The Death Valley record stands at 134.1 degrees. Tirat Tsvi, Israel, also recorded a high of 129.2 degrees on June 22, 1942. The average high temperature in Kuwait this time of year is 115 degrees, according to Weather Underground.

However, following the Kuwait temperature reading, the Washington Post reported many dispute the Death Valley reading, recorded in 1913, and suggested the Kuwait reading last month matched “the highest readings ever reliably measured anywhere in the world.”

The temperature spike was a result of a massive ridge of high pressure parked over the region, the weather service said.

“Being from Vegas, I’m familiar with heat, but this is hot on a whole new level,” 17th SB Command Sgt. Maj. James Richardson said in an email. “I didn’t know humidity could come and go throughout the day. It’s really weird. When the wind blows from the desert it’s not too bad, but when it blows off of the coast, it’s unbelievable.”

So, how are the Nevada soldiers beating the heat?

“Basically, we make a bee line from tent to tent to make our encounters with the sauna as short as possible,” Backus said.

Richardson added: “There really is no way to beat it other than staying hydrated.”

The brigade’s 10-month deployment will end this autumn when temperatures will hopefully be more bearable for returning soldiers.


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