While the very high heat in Germany is briefly pausing, there is no breathing space in several southern European countries. For large parts of Greece, meteorologists are expecting a long heat wave that is expected to last until the beginning of August.
The thermometers in Athens were already showing 30 degrees Celsius early on Friday morning. On the weekend and in the days after, temperatures should reach around 40 degrees, according to the Meteorological Office. Civil protection warned that the risk of fire was extremely high because of the drought.
It is dangerous that even at night the temperatures in many places do not fall below 30 degrees – this makes it difficult for residents and holidaymakers to recover from the heat. The meteorologists do not expect a drop to the normal maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees for the next ten days. The islands of the Aegean such as Skopelos, Mykonos, Santorini and Syros as well as the mountainous regions of the mainland are spared from the heat wave because of sea breezes.
Doctors advised people – especially tourists – to be careful. The long heat wave will put a heavy strain on the body. Alcohol or sugary drinks should not be consumed. “Put on a hat, wear loose, light-colored cotton clothing, drink plenty of water, take lukewarm showers again and again or swim in the sea and eat fruit and vegetables,” a doctor recommended on Friday on state radio. Pedestrians should walk on the shady side of the street if possible.
New figures from Italy also show how severe the consequences of the drought are. There, the fire brigade reported on Friday that they had been called out significantly more often this summer because of forest and bush fires than last year. From June 15 to July 21, more than 32,900 operations were counted across the country, around 4,000 more than in the same period last year, as the fire department announced on Friday.
So far, the firefighters have intervened most frequently in Sicily and Puglia. In the meantime, the authorities are also complaining about one fatality in the forest fires: the police officer and civil defense employee died on Thursday in the municipality of Prepotto on the Italian-Slovenian border east of Udine while extinguishing the fire.
In Italy there has been an extreme drought for months, so that the flames can quickly spread to the dry soil again and again. Negligence or arson are often behind the fires. In addition, the wind often propels the flames.
Dramatic figures also came from Spain on Friday. 2022 is already the most devastating forest fire year there since records began. In the first seven months of the current year, the flames destroyed more than 197,000 hectares of forest, the state TV broadcaster RTVE reported, citing the European earth observation system Copernicus.
That is already more than in the entire previous record year 2012, when the forest fires in Spain destroyed 189,376 hectares. For comparison: The almost 200,000 hectares (2000 square kilometers) that have been destroyed so far in 2022 correspond to around 80 percent of the area of Saarland.
In Germany, people got a little breather from the heat on Friday and Saturday. But already on Sunday sweating is announced again: according to the forecast of the German Weather Service (DWD) in Offenbach, it can be up to 33 degrees on Sunday, on Monday up to 36 degrees are possible.
On Saturday there will be some strong thunderstorms in the east and south-west, then in the south-east in the evening. Otherwise, according to the DWD, it is loosely cloudy. The maximum values are between 22 and 28 degrees. It is coolest in the north, with a maximum of 17 to 21 degrees on the coasts.
On Sunday there will only be a few clouds on the way, only a little rain in the north-west. It will be between 28 and 33 degrees warm, near the coast and in the north it stays at 22 to 28 degrees or less. According to the DWD, a tropical night with at least 20 degrees could follow in the larger cities of western and southwestern Germany.