New Saharan Heat Blast Spells More Extreme Temperatures in Europe

By | July 18, 2023

The heat wave engulfing the Mediterranean is set to intensify as another Saharan anticyclone threatens record temperatures from Italy to Greece.

The new weather system — named Charon after the mythological ferryman who delivered souls to the underworld – could lift temperatures to almost 50C (122F) on the Italian island of Sardinia by Wednesday, according to forecaster Il Meteo. Europe’s all-time high is 48.8C, reached in Sicily two years ago.

High winds are bringing added dangers, with a fire destroying homes outside Athens. On Wednesday, 23 of Italy’s biggest cities are subject to emergency heat wave warnings from the country’s health ministry.

Warnings of record heat come as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather across the Northern Hemisphere. That’s triggering forest fires, disrupting transport and energy infrastructure and forcing tourists and workers to seek sanctuary from the soaring temperatures.

The World Meteorological Organization has said the extreme weather looks likely to become the “new normal,” underlining the increasing urgency of cutting fossil fuel emissions. The call for action on global warming comes as some European Union nations push back against the pace of the energy transition, while oil majors double down on investments in fossil fuels.

Record global temperatures in June were followed by the hottest ever days this month. This year’s unparalleled heat trajectory is also being intensified by the first El Niño weather phenomenon in nearly four years.

That will take a rising toll on the economy, ecosystems and health. A recent study showed that more than 60,000 people died in Europe because of last summer’s heat waves. The Italian health ministry is recommending local governments keep clinics open seven days a week to treat heat-related conditions, while promoting home care for vulnerable people.

In the US, tornado watches and flashflood warnings are up from Long Island through much of New England, while the heat in Death Valley edges toward a record. There are 881 fires burning across Canada, with 573 raging out of control, lowering the air quality across swathes of the region. China provisionally recorded its highest ever temperature on Sunday, according to the Met Office.

Climate change is bringing extreme heat and weather across Europe, threatening the health of millions.
Our team has the latest from Italy, Spain and Germany

— Bloomberg (@business) July 13, 2023

About 150 firemen, supported by jets and helicopters, are battling to contain a blaze outside Athens, with homes and cars destroyed. Residents of Kouvaras and neighboring areas have been ordered to evacuate, while a second fire has broken out close to Loutraki, west of the capital.

That follows a wildfire on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands, where more than 4,000 people were forced to flee their homes before the blaze was brought under control.

Madrid is set to exceed 40C for the first time this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Global Forecasting System. Andorra, which sits up at 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) in the Pyrenees between Spain and France experienced its first night when the temperature didn’t fall below 20C.

Visitors crowd around a water fountain during hot weather caused by the Charon heat wave, in Rome, Italy, on Monday, July 17, 2023. The heat wave engulfing the Mediterranean is set to intensify as another Saharan anticyclone threatens record temperatures from Italy to Greece. Photo credit: Gaia Squarci/Bloomberg

Further north, the UK and Nordic regions continue to dodge the heat, with cooler-than-normal temperatures forecast over the next 10 days. In Oslo, temperatures are set to drop as low as 8C, while highs in London will hover just above 20C, according to Maxar Technologies Inc.

–With assistance from Sotiris Nikas and Flavia Rotondi.

Photograph: A girl pouring water on her face amid extreme heat in Sicily on July 16, 2023. Photo credit: Giovanni Isolino/AFP/Getty Images

Topics Europe

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