Heatwave in Europe: No relief in sight for heat-stricken southern Europe
Southern Europe will continue to swelter next week as a scorching heatwave shows no signs of abating.
High temperatures have been reported in Italy, Spain, and Greece for several days.
For the weekend, the Italian health ministry issued a red alert for 16 towns, including Rome, Bologna, and Florence.
According to Italian media, the heatwave will last until next week, with temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sardinia.
In August 2021, Sicily had a European record high temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
The island will be at the “epicentre” of next week’s heatwave, which weather forecasters have called Charon, after the ferryman in Greek mythology who ferried souls to the underworld.
“Temperatures will peak between the 19th and 23rd of July, not just in Italy, but also in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans.” Several local heat records inside these locations may be broken during those days,” Giulio Betti, an Italian meteorologist and climate expert, told the BBC.
The Italian government has warned anyone in the districts affected by the red alerts on Saturday to avoid direct sunlight between 11:00 and 18:00, and to take special care of the elderly or weak.
In Rome, tour guide Felicity Hinton, 59, told the BBC that the city’s high temperatures and overcrowding have made it “nightmarish” to traverse.
“It’s always hot in Rome, but this has just been consistently hot for a lot longer than normal,” she explained.
My tour guide buddies and I are both quite stressed. People have been passing out on excursions, and there are ambulances around.”
Elena, a 62-year-old Rome resident, told the BBC that she has seen a “marked change” in summer temperatures since roughly 2003, and that they have been increasing rapidly since then.
Meanwhile, temperatures in Greece have recently reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). To safeguard visitors, the Acropolis in Athens, the country’s most popular tourist attraction, was closed during the warmest hours of Friday and Saturday.
A forest fire on the Spanish island of La Palma caused the evacuation of at least 500 inhabitants.
The heatwave is expected to reach the Balkans later next week, however several countries, like Serbia and Hungary, are already experiencing daily temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
Periods of severe heat occur naturally, but as a result of global warming, they are growing more frequent, more intense, and stay longer.
“Heatwaves grow in number and intensity every year… and they are among the most tangible, obvious, documented, and clearly observable signs of climate change,” Mr Betti added.
“In recent years, European summers have become much, much hotter… Summers without violent and lengthy heatwaves just do not occur anymore, which should concern us. ‘Normal’ summers are becoming increasingly rare.”
According to the EU’s climate monitoring organization Copernicus, last month was the hottest June on record.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that extreme weather is “unfortunately becoming the new normal” as a result of global warming.