New York Bridge No Longer Working Due to Extreme Heat

New York Bridge No Longer Working Due to Extreme Heat
New York Bridge No Longer Working Due to Extreme Heat

The bridge that connects Manhattan and the Bronx is at a standstill. The steel is expanding because of the record heat wave that is hitting the American West in this month of July 2024.

In Western Europe, summer is long overdue for some, who would like higher temperatures. However, the season is well and truly here. And in the rest of the world, the heat is reaching astonishing levels. This is the case right now since the beginning of July 2024, in the United States, in the Western part.

Residents are experiencing record-breaking temperatures. This is the case in Las Vegas, which reached 48.89 degrees Celsius. In the city of Phoenix, the temperature did not drop below 33 degrees during the night. The human and material consequences are compounded. The country has already suffered several deaths due to this extreme excess of heat – when certain temperatures are exceeded, the body can no longer function normally.

Firefighters work to cool the bridge. // Source: BBC/NY authorities

A physical illustration of the effects of excessive heat is in New York, where the temperature has reached an annual record of 35 degrees. The famous Third Avenue Bridge, which has linked the Bronx and Manhattan for 126 years, has been stuck open since July 9. The cause has been identified as heat: steel, beyond a certain temperature, no longer behaves normally.

New York Bridge Steel Expands

This is called thermal expansion. Steel undergoes a material “expansion” – that is, an increase in volume, imperceptible to the naked eye, due to excess heat, which short-circuits the operation of machinery based on this material.

For this reason, the New York Fire Department is now actively working to repair the bridge by spraying water on it. The goal is to gradually cool it down.

Fortunately, the Third Avenue Bridge malfunction did not cause any human casualties. However, it did cause traffic jams, which during a heatwave of this magnitude is not ideal.

A year of heat records

The heat wave hitting the American West is indicative of climate change. For over a year, the planet has been breaking heat records.

Every month, the Earth experiences its hottest month. This concerns both land and ocean temperatures, since the sea surface is also affected. To understand the consequences of climate change, it is necessary to remove oneself from the weather at a given time and place: if you have the impression that it is “not hot enough” where you are for a month of July, this is in no way significant, nor necessarily true (June was a normal month, very slightly negative, compared to seasonal norms).

Infrastructure will have to adapt to global warming.

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