Record heat wave in Europe;  thousands flee forest fires in France, Spain

Record heat wave in Europe; thousands flee forest fires in France, Spain


LONDON – “Britain is melting”, it said on a front page here on Tuesday, when record heat and raging forest fires in France and Spain brought the number of extreme temperatures close to many Europeans.

As the heat wave moved across the continent, Germany and Belgium also issued heat warnings, while firefighters fought to contain flames that have been burning land in Portugal for several days.

Britain’s weather service declared on Tuesday the hottest day recorded in Britain, how many schools closed and subway authorities urged commuters to Avoid unnecessary travel. London Heathrow was among six locations to reach 104 degrees (40 Celsius) on Tuesday, and broke Britain’s temperature record through the ages after the country declared a national emergency, well above the 2019 record of 101.7 degrees (38.7 Celsius).

The new preliminary record holder is Coningsby, about 120 miles north of London. The altitude there hit 104.5 degrees, or 40.3 degrees Celsius.

After 363 years of tracking the summer heat, the UK sees an all-time high

“Earth sends a warning,” read another British headline – a nod to scientists’ warnings about the challenge of climate change for daily life. Railway temperatures threatened to break tracks and stop train traffic. And London’s ambulance service was preparing for an increase in emergency calls for fainting and heat exposure.

Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the heat in Spain and Portugal since last week, and forest fires have forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes there, as well as in France.

In Spain, where the flames burned through tens of thousands of hectares, Footage showed a man coming out of a towering orange fire in Zamora province, with his clothes on fire. He ran through a field of flames that engulfed his excavator.

These maps show how extremely hot it is in Europe and the United States

Train services stopped on Tuesday between the capital Madrid and Galicia in the northwest due to a fire near the tracks, said the transport authorities.

en “very extremeThe fire danger extended as far north as eastern England due to the combination of overly hot and dry weather, according to Copernicus, an EU climate monitoring service. Sky News reported that firefighters were battling at least 10 fires around London.

A Spanish man fleeing a forest fire died on July 18 when the fire engulfed his excavator in Zamora, Spain. (Video: Reuters)

In southwestern France, forest fires have destroyed at least 19,000 hectares. The flames continued to ripple in the Gironde early Tuesday after several firefighters were sent to the region on the west coast, which is surrounded by popular beaches and resorts. Authorities said around 37,000 people had evacuated their homes in the past week.

Temperatures in France rose as high as 108.8 degrees (42.7 Celsius) on Monday, as dozens of locations set all-time highs. Cities and towns on the Atlantic coast were given a respite early Tuesday, when a cool oceanic mass of air arrived from the west overnight. The French Meteorological Agency raised the “red” warning level in 15 areas and said the atmosphere was “much more breathable”.

How to stay safe in extreme heat

Still, the “heat wave is shifting to the east of the country,” the Meteo-France agency added, and 70 other regions remained below an “orange” heat warning level. Maximum temperature was expected to reach 95 to 104 degrees (35 to 40 Celsius).

The record-breaking temperatures across the UK triggered calls for action when some experts pointed to the role of human-influenced climate change.

“Climate change driven by greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible,” said Stephen Belcher, head of science and technology at the Met Office after Britain broke 40 degrees Celsius for the first time. “We actually see that opportunity now.”

Belcher said such high temperatures could occur every three years in the UK if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

The UK posted not only its highest maximum daytime temperatures recorded, but also its maximum night temperatures – with some places not declining during the upper 70s (25 to 26 Celsius). The lack of night cooling was a serious concern for health officials, as only a small percentage of British homes have air conditioning.

“Watch out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions,” the Met Office advised. “Close curtains in sun-facing rooms to keep indoor rooms cooler and remember that it can be cooler outdoors than indoors”

Why this European heat wave is so scary

At a meeting in Berlin on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in an external speech that world leaders were facing a strong choice on climate change, noting that people in Africa, South Asia and Central and South America were 15 times more likely to to die from extreme weather events.

“Collective action or collective suicide,” he told government officials. “It’s in our hands.”

The heat wave originates from a vast area of ​​high pressure over Western Europe, also known as a heat dome. The heating dome balloon unusually far north due to a low pressure system west of Portugal, whose circulation pumped in hot air from North Africa.

In addition to the overly hot weather in the UK and eastern parts of France on Tuesday, record-breaking heat was also forecast for Belgium, the Netherlands and West Germany.

By Wednesday, it is predicted that the core of the heat will focus on central and eastern Germany, Poland and southern Scandinavia when the heating dome is pushed eastwards.

From Friday into the weekend, a new heating dome will be built over Southern Europe with extremely high temperatures over Spain, France and Italy, which have already withstood several attacks with penalty heat this summer.

Timsit reported from Paris. Samenow reported from Washington.

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