Europe braces for record-breaking heatwave

Posted by Christi Nortier on 26 June 2019

Western and central Europe is already beginning to experience the start of a potentially record-breaking summer heatwave. It’s expected that temperature records will be broken earlier in the year than they were originally set.

Europe was hit by a heatwave in August 2003 which caused 70,000 premature deaths.

According to the BBC, France, Spain and Italy may be the worst effected with temperatures predicted to rise to between 36°C and 40°C.

However, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland are also expected to be affected.

The heatwave is being caused by hot air from the Sahara that’s being sucked into Europe because of the interplay between a storm over the Atlantic and high pressure over central Europe.

France has already taken measures to prepare for this heatwave. The 2003 heatwave sent temperatures up to 44.1°C nd was blamed for 15,000 premature deaths in France alone.

French authorities expect this record to be broken and are trying to make public spaces open and cool. The capital is especially vulnerable due to its lack of green spaces, which would help to regulate temperature.

Authorities have extended public swimming pool and park hours in Paris, as well as constructing three temporary swimming pools. They have also encouraged the use of parks as they can potentially be up to 2°C cooler than other parts of the city.

‘Cool rooms’ have been created in municipal buildings and extra drinking fountains have been installed. Charities are giving water out to the homeless and an emergency hotline has been established.

National high school exams have been postponed for the first time ever and schools have been closed.

Other countries have taken their own emergency measures. In Brussels, horse-and-carriage rides for tourists have been halted because of animal health concerns.

Speed restrictions have been placed on Germany’s ‘autobahns’ as the unusual heat could lead to the tarmac breaking and shredding tyres.

Rome’s zoo gave its residents ice lollies to help them keep cool.

The BBC reported that a climatology institute in Potsdam, Germany, says Europe’s five hottest summers since 1500 were all in the 21st Century. In addition, the continent experienced its hottest August on record last year with deaths in Portugal and Spain and drought in Germany and Sweden.

CNN’s senior meteorologist, Brandon Miller, has explained that it is dangerous when summer temperatures go far beyond their norm because people are not prepared. They may not have air conditioning and buildings may not be able to cope.

Feature image: Mike Benna.

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