France, Spain and other Western European countries prepared for a hot June weekend on Saturday, which should break records and raise concerns about forest fires and the effects of climate change.
The weather on Saturday will be the peak of the June heat wave, which is in line with scientists’ warnings that such phenomena will now occur earlier than usual due to climate change.
Temperatures have already exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of France on Friday.
But they need to lose some weight from Sunday with forecasts of thunderstorms in parts of France and elsewhere in Europe.
French weather forecaster Meteo France said temperature records in June had already been broken in 11 areas on Friday and could reach 42 degrees Celsius in some areas on Saturday.
“This is the earliest heat wave ever recorded in France since 1947,” said Mathieu Sorel, a climatologist at Meteo France.
With “many monthly or even temperature records for all times that are likely to be defeated in several regions,” he called the weather a “marker of climate change.”
In Spain, Forest fires burned nearly 9,000 hectares (22,240 acres) of land in the northwestern Sierra de la Culebra region on Friday, forcing about 200 people to flee their homes, regional authorities said.
And more than 3,000 people were evacuated from the Puy du Fou theme park in central Spain due to a fierce fire nearby.
Firefighters have been fighting fires in several other regions, including forests in Catalonia, where weather conditions complicate the battle.
Temperatures were above 35 degrees Celsius on Friday in most of the country.
The hospitals are full
More than half of the French departments were at the highest or second highest level of heat alarm by Friday afternoon.
“Hospitals are at full capacity, but in line with demand,” Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon told reporters in Vienna, near Lyon in the southeast.
Students were told to stay home in departments with an alarm level of “red” and Ministry of Health activates a special hotline hotline.
The Red Cross is also organizing efforts to distribute water to the homeless community in Toulouse, where temperatures are expected to rise to 38 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
“There are more deaths on the streets in the summer than in the winter,” said Hugh Juglair, a 67-year-old volunteer.
Meanwhile, fans of rock and metal at the Hellfest music festival in western France were sprayed with water from hoses and huge vaporizers in front of the stage as they shook their heads or bounced to the first day lineup, which included Deftones and The Offspring.
Several cities in northern Italy have declared water standards, and the Lombardy region may declare a state of emergency as a record drought threatens the harvest.
Ibrahim Tiau, executive secretary of the UN convention tasked with reversing land degradation, warned on Friday that the drought was “expected to increase in severity and frequency”.
“The effects of the drought could affect up to three-quarters of humanity by 2050,” he said in a speech in Madrid.
The United Kingdom recorded its hottest day of the year on Friday with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius in the early afternoon, meteorologists said.
It was the third day in a row that temperature records were broken in the United Kingdom, where it was over 28 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and 29.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday.
Experts have warned that the high temperatures are caused by worrying trends in climate change.
“As a result of climate change, hot flashes start earlier,” said Claire Nulis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.
“Unfortunately, what we are witnessing today is a premonition of the future if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, pushing global warming to 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels,” she added.
In France, special measures were housed in nursing homes, still marked by the memory of the deadly 2003 heat wave that killed at least 15,000 people.
The buildings are sprayed with water to cool, and residents are changed through air-conditioned rooms.
In the Gironde department, which includes Bordeaux, authorities said all public or outdoor events would be banned from 14:00 (12:00 GMT) on Friday, a measure that should be extended throughout the region.
And speed limits in several regions, including around Paris, have been reduced to limit the concentration of harmful smog or ozone in the heat.
Paris Police Chief Didier Laleman said only the least polluting vehicles would be able to move in the capital on Saturday due to particulate pollution.
The RTE grid operator said increased use of fans and air conditioners also increases energy consumption.
© 2022 AFP
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