Western Europe braces for its hottest weather since a 2003 heat wave killed 15000 people in France
Western Europe is bracing for an intense, dangerous, and possibly even deadly heat wave this week, with temperatures due to soar as high as 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit.
Countries including France, Spain, and Portugal are expecting record-breaking temperatures starting Wednesday, while the rest of the continent is also set to face temperatures much higher than normal.
It’s not clear when the heat wave will end.
Scientists have attributed the soaring temperatures to the combination of a storm over the Atlantic Ocean and high pressure over central Europe, which is importing hot air from the Sahara.
Here’s what’s being forecast:
- Parts of France could reach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit, on Wednesday, the national weather agency Météo France reported. High humidity could make it feel like 47 C, or 117 F, the BBC added.
- Berlin is expecting temperatures as high as 38 C (100 F) by Thursday, the BBC said. Major cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg are also expecting temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius (about 95 F).
- Most of Spain is expecting temperatures of at least 36 C (95 F) on Wednesday, according to the Spanish meteorological agency Aemet.
- Large swaths of Switzerland are expecting temperatures of more than 30 C beginning Wednesday, with Geneva predicted to reach 37 C (98.6 F) on Wednesday and Thursday, Switzerland’s national meteorological agency, Météo Suisse, said.
- Temperatures in Portugal are expected to hit mid-to-upper 30 degrees Celsius (upper 90s Fahrenheit) and could further rise to more than 40 C (104 F), Axios reported.
- Parts of Poland are also expected to see temperatures rise to at least 35 to 40 C (95 to 105 F) this week — which is at least 11 to 17 C (20 to 30 F) above normal, The Washington Post reported.
Silvia Laplana, a meteorologist at Spain’s state-owned RTVE channel, tweeted images of the forecast temperatures in the country this week with the caption “El infierno is coming.” Infierno is the Spanish word for hell.
The sudden spike in temperature could be dangerous because the region is not accustomed to such high temperatures, which could put people at risk of heat-related ailments, Axios said.
Some 15,000 people across France died following a similarly aggressive heat wave in August 2003, when temperatures in the south of France hit as high as 44.1 C (111.4 F), according to France24.
Officials in Paris have put the city in high alert, placing hospitals and care homes on high alert as schools delay exams, Business Insider’s Sinéad Baker reported.
Though heat waves are not uncommon in Europe, this one is unusually early. Experts say climate change is making heat waves more common.
“This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil, and gas,” Stefan Rahmstorf, a climatologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the Associated Press.
Heat waves like this will continue to worsen if countries do not cut their greenhouse-gas emissions soon, a group of scientists warned in a report published earlier this month.
Recent heat waves around the world have already proved to be deadly.
At least 36 people have died during a prolonged heat wave in India, which has lasted more than 30 days, according to CNN.
Temperatures in Churu, western India, rose above 50 C (122 F) on June 1, the network reported.