Not that far from home after all: heatwaves and floods hit Hà Nội

May 11, 2023 - 09:11
On Saturday, the country recorded its highest-ever temperature, a blistering 44.1 degrees Celsius in Hương Khê District, Hà Tĩnh Province.
An umbrella comes in handy in Hà Nội whatever the weather. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hiếu

Seán Nolan

As someone who grew up in the UK, I'm used to frequent and unpredictable changes in weather – it's something of a national joke.

One minute you're enjoying a sunny day in the park, and the next, you're huddled under an umbrella as the rain comes pouring down.

And so it was no surprise to see the UK making light of the downpours affecting King Charles III's coronation last weekend and carrying on as planned.

However, it wasn't just the UK experiencing some rather changeable weather last weekend.

On Saturday, Việt Nam recorded its highest-ever temperature, a blistering 44.1 degrees Celsius in Hương Khê District, Hà Tĩnh Province.

Hà Nội wasn't spared either, with the 'real feel' temperature topping 49 degrees.

As someone who enjoys the heat, even I have to admit it was a bit much. After going to the gym early in the morning, I spent the rest of the day alternating between my breezy balcony and my blissfully cold air-conditioned apartment.

Even though I didn't resurface outside until the evening, it was still unbearably hot, and I made sure to be sat almost on top of a fan at the bia hơi my friends and I went to.

However, by Monday, temperatures in Hà Nội had dropped to a balmy 24 degrees again, and heavy rain led to flash flooding across the capital, causing traffic jams and other disruptions (and wet feet in the office for me all day).

Despite the best efforts of legions of road sweepers and men in high-vis jackets, the capital's drainage systems couldn't cope with the sudden influx of water, and many streets flooded.

Although the rain had stopped by lunchtime and the water had receded somewhat, it was shocking just how quickly the weather could shift from one extreme to another.

Of course, Việt Nam has a tropical climate, and given the time of year, such occurrences aren't unheard of.

However, the rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns are just some of the effects of climate change that are already being felt in Việt Nam.

Extreme weather events such as the record-breaking heatwave and sudden flash flooding in Việt Nam are becoming increasingly frequent.

As someone who grew up in the UK, the extreme weather events I've experienced in Việt Nam do bring a sense of familiarity.

The unpredictability of the British weather has long been a national joke, and people there have a strange sense of pride in being stoic in the face of wind, rain, sleet or snow.

But, perhaps Việt Nam deserves some plaudits too – especially if this weather keeps up! — VNS