Record heatwave in Europe; Thousands flee forest fires in France, Spain


LONDON – “BRITAIN MELTS” read a front page here on Tuesday, as record heat and raging wildfires in France and Spain brought many Europeans closer to the toll of extreme temperatures.

As the heatwave spread across the continent, Germany and Belgium also issued heat warnings as firefighters struggled to contain blazes that have been scorching country in Portugal for days.

The UK Weather Service declared Tuesday the hottest day on record in Britain, where many Schools closed and subway authorities urged commuters to do so avoid unnecessary travel. London Heathrow was one of six locations to surpass 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, beating Britain’s all-time temperature record after the country declared a national emergency, well above the 2019 record of 101.7 degrees (38.7 degrees Celsius).

The new provisional record holder is Coningsby, around 129 miles north of London. The high there reached 104.5 degrees or 40.3 degrees Celsius.

After 363 years of tracking the summer heat, Britain is experiencing an all-time high

“Earth sends out warning,” read another British headline – a nod to scientists’ warnings about the challenge that climate change poses to everyday life. Rail temperatures threatened to break the tracks and halt train service. And London Ambulance Services braced themselves for a spate of 911 calls for fainting and heat exposure.

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

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

These maps show how excessively hot it is in Europe and the US

Train services between the capital Madrid and Galicia in the north-west were suspended on Tuesday due to a fire near the tracks. This was announced by the traffic authorities.

A “very extreme“The fire danger stretched as far as eastern England due to the combination of excessively hot and dry weather, according to Copernicus, a European Union climate monitoring service. Sky News reported that firefighters were battling at least 10 blazes around London.

A Spanish man fleeing wildfire came close to death on July 18 when fire engulfed his excavator in Zamora, Spain. (Video: Reuters)

Forest fires have destroyed at least 19,000 hectares in south-west France. Flames raged in the Gironde early Tuesday after more firefighters were dispatched to the west coast region, which is lined with popular beaches and holiday resorts. According to the authorities, about 37,000 people had evacuated their homes in the past week.

Temperatures in France rose to 108.8 degrees (42.7 degrees Celsius) on Monday. as dozens of sites set all-time highs. Cities on the Atlantic coast got a pause early Tuesday as a cool oceanic airmass rushed in from the west overnight. The French weather agency raised the “red” alert level in 15 areas and said the atmosphere was becoming “much more breathable”.

This will keep you safe in extreme heat

Still, “the heatwave is shifting to the east of the country,” the agency Meteo-France added, and 70 other regions remained under an “orange” heat alert level. Maximum temperatures should reach 95 to 104 degrees (35 to 40 degrees Celsius).

That record-breaking temperatures across the UK sparked calls for action as some experts pointed to the role of human-induced climate change.

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

Belcher said such hot temperatures could hit the UK every three years if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

Not only did the UK record its highest daily highs on record, but so did its maximum night temperatures – with some locations not falling below the upper 70s (25 to 26 degrees Celsius). The lack of night-time cooling has been of major concern to health officials, as only a tiny percentage of UK homes have air conditioning.

“Take care of others, particularly the elderly, young children and babies, and those with underlying health conditions,” the Met Office advised. “Close curtains in rooms facing the sun to keep interiors cooler, and remember that it can be cooler outside than inside.”

Why this European heatwave is so scary

At a meeting in Berlin on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a distant address that world leaders were facing a difficult decision on climate change, noting that the likelihood that people in Africa, South Asia and Central – and South America die from extremes, 15 times higher is weather events.

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

The heat wave originated from a large area of ​​high pressure over western Europe, also known as the heat dome. The heat dome flared unusually far north due to a low-pressure system west of Portugal, whose circulation pumped hot air in from North Africa.

In addition to excessively hot weather in Britain and eastern France on Tuesday, record-breaking heat was also forecast for Belgium, the Netherlands and western Germany.

By Wednesday, the core of the heat is expected to concentrate over central and eastern Germany, Poland and southern Scandinavia as the heat dome is pushed east.

From Friday through the weekend, a new heat dome will build over southern Europe, with extremely high temperatures over Spain, France and Italy, which have already suffered multiple bouts of grueling heat this summer.

Timsit reported from Paris. Samenow reported from Washington. Record heatwave in Europe; Thousands flee forest fires in France, Spain

Dustin Huang

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