The hottest summer days since weather records began are expected in some parts of Europe these days – and have already been recorded. A large part of the area of the European Union is said to be directly threatened by a prolonged drought, according to a report by the EU Commission’s joint research center.
At the end of June, 46 percent of the entire EU area was at drought warning level two, and 11 percent was even at the highest warning level three.
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An end to the drought is not yet in sight. According to the report, the severe drought in Europe is set to continue to spread and progressively worsen. The reason for this is lack of precipitation in combination with persistent heat waves.
With temperatures well above 35 degrees in many places, Germany also felt the scorching heat over Europe on Tuesday. In the west, the German Weather Service (DWD) even thought temperatures of over 40 degrees were possible – in the evening Duisburg (Duisburg-Baerl station) turned out to be the warmest place with 39.5 degrees. This made Tuesday the hottest day of the year so far.
The DWD spoke of a “strong heat load”. “The focus of the heat is in the area from Saarland to Rhineland-Palatinate to North Rhine-Westphalia, with low-lying areas on the Rhine and conurbations such as the Ruhr area being particularly predestined,” explained meteorologist Sabine Krüger. 38 degrees were measured in many places, as the DWD said in the evening.
According to preliminary data, Great Britain experienced the hottest day on record on Tuesday and exceeded the 40 degree mark for the first time. At London’s Heathrow Airport, 40.2 degrees Celsius were measured at midday, as the Met Office weather service announced on Tuesday according to preliminary data.
The country had previously declared a state of emergency. According to the British Weather Office, this warning level is only announced if illnesses and deaths also occur in healthy people and not only in risk groups.
The chief of the British weather service “Met Office” warned the British population not to underestimate the heat. “These temperatures are unprecedented in the UK and we are not used to dealing with them,” she said.
British Secretary of State Kit Malthouse had also warned of caution. “We have a difficult 48 hours ahead of us,” he told the BBC news channel.
Temperatures between 40 and 42 degrees are expected in France, according to the national weather service “MeteoFrance”.
The high temperatures and strong winds are further heating up the forest fires on the southern French Atlantic coast in the south of the country. Already on Monday thousands of people had to leave their homes as a precaution. According to the prefecture for the Gironde in France, around 8,000 people were affected at Teste-de-Buch. At Landiras, 3,500 people were initially taken to safety.
The two fires south of Bordeaux continued to spread on Monday and have now burned around 19,300 hectares of land, as the responsible prefecture for the Gironde announced on Tuesday.
After a maximum temperature of 45.7 degrees had already been reached in Spain, temperatures fell slightly on Tuesday. A drought that has lasted for months and strong winds favored the outbreak and spread of some forest fires, which continued on Tuesday.
Firefighters and aid workers battled more than 30 wildfires. More than 6,000 people from 32 villages in the northwest would have to leave their homes.
The burned body of a shepherd was found in Losacio, Castile and León, after a firefighter died over the weekend. “Climate change kills,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Even if the temperatures in Portugal fell slightly, violent forest fires continued to rage on duty. The temperatures also remained hot and are expected to rise again in the course of the week: Temperatures of around 42 are expected next weekend.
As the Portuguese Ministry of Health announced, by July 18, 1,063 people had already died as a result of the ongoing heat wave – most of them were elderly.
Over 50 people were arrested for arson – over 20 more arrests than in the previous year. According to Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro, 60 percent of all forest fires are caused by carelessness when using fire, such as grilling and smoking, or by lighting campfires. According to the nature conservation authority “ICNF”, the fires have already destroyed around 30,000 hectares of forest in just over a week.
While people in western and central Europe are groaning under a heat wave, the Greek weather agency predicted temperatures of around 29 degrees in Athens on Tuesday. This “dream weather”, as one meteorologist called it on state radio, is the result of strong winds blowing in and around the Aegean Sea. It should last until next Friday.
However, these also favored the forest fires. 39 sources of fire came within one day. Nine villages north of Athens had to be evacuated. From Sunday to Monday, 108 fires broke out in Greece within 24 hours. Firefighters also fought the flames and embers of a forest fire on the holiday island of Crete on Monday.
The risk of forest fires is rated as “very high” locally, including on the islands of Crete, Euboea, Samos and Lesvos, and also in the northeast of the Peloponnese peninsula and around the capital Athens.
In Croatia, a forest fire near the Dalmatian town of Sibenik was largely brought under control on Thursday. The sources of fire on the so-called Krka Riviera no longer spread uncontrollably, as the civil defense in Sibenik announced.
On the popular Croatian peninsula of Istria, restrictions on water consumption came into force on Monday, which should also affect holidaymakers. Potable tap water may no longer be used for washing vehicles, cleaning streets, watering green spaces or showering on beaches and in swimming pools, Croatian media reported.