It’s so hot, roads are buckling, they’re putting foil on a bridge, and roofs are melting

Last week’s deadly heatwaves have unleashed strange infrastructural events around the world as millions face searing temperatures that are still rising.
The heat-related events also speak to aging infrastructure around the world, most of which – roads, bridges, railroads, buildings – are unprepared for the muggy conditions of recent times.

Exactly how hot was it? Spring…

The UK experienced its hottest day on record on Tuesday as temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

It was so hot that a runway at London Luton Airport on the outskirts of the capital had to be closed because it was melting in the heat.

“Flights are being temporarily suspended to allow for necessary runway repairs after high surface temperatures caused a small section to lift off.” The airport tweeted on Monday.
According to the Pennsylvania State University College of Engineering, heat causes materials to expand and crack as temperatures rise — concrete and asphalt found on runways and roads are no exception.

It’s so hot that a museum roof has melted in China

A heat wave has now swept through half of China, affecting more than 900 million people – or about 64% of the population. All but two northeastern provinces in China have issued high-temperature warnings, with 84 cities issuing their highest red alerts last week.

In the city of Chongqing, which is also on red alert, the heat caused the roof of the Forbidden City’s Cultural Relics Museum to melt.

The heat dissolved the underlying tar, causing the traditional Chinese tiles to flake off.

It’s so hot they’re wrapping a London bridge in foil

Built in 1887, Hammersmith Bridge in London was closed to all users in August 2020 due to cracks in the bases following a heatwave.

Hammersmith Bridge in London can now be seen with silver foil around it due to the country’s heatwave.

You might be wondering why foil, and if that would attract more heat – it’s actually part of a cooling system that reflects sunlight and keeps the bridge at a moderate temperature so its materials don’t expand and crack.

“Engineers are working around the clock to keep the 135-year-old Hammersmith Bridge open during the extreme heat wave,” according to a press release from Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

The council commissioned world-class engineers to cover the bridge with a “£420,000 (US$503,000) comprehensive temperature control system to keep the bridge at a safe temperature and reduce any stress on the plinths”.

“It effectively acts as a giant air conditioner on each of the four chains of sockets,” the council’s release reads.

The bridge actually had to be closed in August 2020 when a heatwave caused “microcracks in its cast-iron bases.”

It’s so hot they’ve painted the railways in London white

Train tracks painted white to help the heat at Alexandra Palace station in London.

Railroads were also scorched during this heat wave. So much so that they painted them white in London.

“The rail temperature here is over 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), so we’re painting the rails white to keep them from getting hotter.” Britain’s Network Rail tweeted Monday. The agency regulates rail infrastructure in the UK.
By painting the splints white, they absorb less heat and expand less. This in turn reduces delays in hot weather, The agency tweeted.

It’s so hot it’s bursting pipes in Texas

A construction worker digs a hole around a ruptured 20-inch water main in Fort Worth, Texas, as repairs begin on a line that has failed under the stress of record-breaking temperatures.
Searing temperatures and a lack of rain have caused the ground to shift in Fort Worth, Texas, according to the city’s website.

The result this summer was “an unusually high number of water pipe bursts”.

“As of 8 a.m. Monday, Fort Worth Water has had 476 major breaches in 2022, including 221 in the past 90 days,” the city said in a press release. “The telling number is 182 in the last 30 days — over 38% of the annual total.”

Those major breaches have created a kind of chaos cocktail in Fort Worth due to the Covid-19 labor shortage that has led to a backlog of leaks and repairs, the press release said. In addition, water consumption has increased due to the heat.

“The city is bringing in outside contractors to help with these backlogs in an emergency,” the release said.

CNN’s Angela Dewan, Nectar Gan, Jessie Yeung, Shawn Deng, and Ritu Prasad contributed to this report.

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