Sweltering Europe braces for peak of record heatwave

People refresh themselves under a mist sprayer in Lille, northern France
People refresh themselves under a mist sprayer in Lille, northern France

Europeans braced Thursday for the expected peak of a sweltering heatwave that has sent temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), with schools in France closing and wildfires in Spain spinning out of control.

Governments warned citizens to take extra precautions, with the also causing a build-up of pollution, and emergency calls to hospitals increased.

Exceptional for arriving so early in summer, the will on Thursday and Friday likely send thermometers above 40 C in France, Spain and Greece.

A forest fire in Torre del Espanol in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region raged out of control, devouring land despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters who worked through the night.

In the Italian city of Milan, a 72-year-old homeless man was found dead at the main train station after falling ill due to the heatwave, the local authorities said.

Ice cakes for animals

Across Europe people frolicked in fountains to stay cool while zookeepers handed out cakes of ice packed with fish, mango or cherries to keep the animals cool.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said people had to be prepared for the peak of the heatwave and expressed irritation that some appeared not to be taking the advice on board.

The heat has been particularly intense in northern Spain, with temperatures set to rise above 40 degrees Celcius at the weekend
The heat has been particularly intense in northern Spain, with temperatures set to rise above 40 degrees Celcius at the weekend

"We see citizens who are quite irresponsible and continue to go jogging between midday and 2:00 pm," she told France 2 TV.

She complained also of seeing "parents who leave their children in the car to do some quick shopping or leave them without a hat in the open air."

Some four days into the heatwave, Buzyn said French authorities were seeing an increase in the number of calls to emergency services and that she was concerned there would be an influx of people going to hospital.

All-time record?

The average maximum temperature recorded Wednesday in France of 34.9 C was already a record for the month of June, said state weather forecaster Meteo France.

At the Bordeaux-Pessac Zoo in southwestern France, keepers were finding creative ways of keeping the animals cool, handing out m
At the Bordeaux-Pessac Zoo in southwestern France, keepers were finding creative ways of keeping the animals cool, handing out mango ice cakes and fish

Even are expected on Friday, where areas in the south could see peaks of 42 to 44 C.

Meteo France said France's all-time record could be broken—an August 12, 2003 reading of 44.1 C in Saint-Christol-les-Ales and Conqueyrac in the southern Gard region.

Germany on Wednesday saw its June temperature record broken, with a 38.6 C reading in Coschen, near the Polish border, breaking a previous record dating back to 1947.

As Germans attempted to cool off amid scorching temperatures, at least four people died in bathing accidents in different parts of the country on Wednesday.

And some areas of Germany are experiencing and around the North Rhein Westfalia towns of Loehne, Bad Oeynhausen, residents were told to only use drinking water for vital purposes or face a 1,000 euros ($1,137) fine.

People across the continent have been flocking to rivers and swimming pools to seek some relief from the heat
People across the continent have been flocking to rivers and swimming pools to seek some relief from the heat

French hotel group Accor said it would open up its air-conditioned lobbies to the elderly until Saturday to ensure their wellbeing.

There has been no coordinated shutdown of schools but some have closed in parts of France, while others advised parents to keep children at home.

Schools in Paris will stay open until the end of the week when the summer holidays will begin, city authorities said.

In the wider Paris region, authorities have shut some primary schools including in Essonne where around 59 educational institutions have closed.

Residents of the French city of Grenoble were unable to use two municipal swimming pools despite the record temperatures, due to a row sparked by use of the full-body Islamic burkini swimsuit.

Spanish firefighters were struggling to contain a blaze that broke out in its northeastern Catalonia region
Spanish firefighters were struggling to contain a blaze that broke out in its northeastern Catalonia region

Lifeguards had asked for the shutdown after Muslim women clad in burkinis had gone to swim in defiance of a municipal ban.

Increasing probability

The increase in has also led to a build-up of pollution in already clogged cities, in particular the gas ozone.

In Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg, authorities have banned the most-polluting cars from the roads.

Scientists warn that linked to human fossil fuel use could make such scorchers more frequent.

A bear eats iced fruit to cool off at the Rome zoo (Bioparco di Roma) as temperatures reach 36 degrees Celsius in the Italian ca
A bear eats iced fruit to cool off at the Rome zoo (Bioparco di Roma) as temperatures reach 36 degrees Celsius in the Italian capital.

"Global temperatures are increasing due to climate change," said Len Shaffrey, professor of climate science at the University of Reading in Britain.

"The global rise in temperatures means the probability that an extreme heatwave will occur is also increasing."


Explore further

Europeans on alert as heatwave intensifies (Update)

© 2019 AFP

Citation: Sweltering Europe braces for peak of record heatwave (2019, June 27) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-sweltering-europe-braces-peak-heatwave.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more