With nighttime temperatures exceeding 30°C in Madrid and weekend day temperatures expected to soar far above normal for June in many cities across their continent, Europeans are struggling to keep hydrated and cool, while officials work to staff hospitals and warn of “extreme” forest fire risk.
“Meteorologists said temperatures would reach or even exceed 40°C from Spain to Switzerland, as hot air was sucked up from the Sahara by the combination of a storm stalling over the Atlantic and high pressure over central Europe,” reports the Guardian, adding that high humidity “meant it would feel like 47°C.”
With temperatures rising into the 40s, many parts of Spain are reporting an “extreme risk” of forest fires, while in France (Paris saw 34°C this week), officials are working hard to avoid a repeat of the devastating August, 2003 heat wave which took the lives of almost 15,000 people, most of them elderly. This time around, the response includes municipal “cool rooms” and night-time pool hours.
What makes this heat wave particularly unusual for the French, Emmanuel Demaël of Météo-France told The Guardian, is its early timing: ‘we haven’t seen this since 1947,” he said.
In Italy, daytime temperatures cresting as high as 40°C from Milan to Rome have left “the health ministry suggesting army doctors may be needed to counter a shortage of medics.”
In Germany, the sweltering heat arrived on the heels of fierce weekend storms and record-breaking rain that found “the Munich fire brigade called out 50 times and flights into and out of Munich airport suspended.” The high heat hit as mid-year UN climate negotiations were entering their second week in Bonn.
Such extreme weather events so early in summer are being widely reported as “a harbinger of the country’s future if governments—including Germany’s—fail to immediately curb carbon emissions,” reports Clean Energy Wire. The country’s largest daily newspaper, Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, declared that “the experts’ judgement is clear: this is a sign of climate change.”
Long-range forecasts suggest the June heat foreshadows an inferno to come, with summer temperatures “rivalling those of 2018, which according to the European Environment Agency was one of the three warmest years on record on the continent.”