Cinderella in Europe: Southern countries have been experiencing extreme temperatures for weeks. There is no improvement in sight. The next heat wave could set a new record.
Right now, you can think the weather is finally going crazy. While northwestern Europe suffers torrential rain and storms, the southeast has been turning into a glowing oven for weeks — and it probably won’t get cold again anytime soon. It was only on Tuesday that the Greek Meteorological Service warned of an impending heat wave with local temperatures above 40 degrees. Even at night, the thermometer should not fall below 30 degrees for several days in many places.
But it is not only the country on the Aegean Sea that suffers from the intense heat that is transmitted from Africa towards Europe. Other popular holiday countries also experience hot days. Especially in the Adriatic and Balkans, the weather may deteriorate in the coming days.
up to 50 degrees in Italy
According to the calculations of the US GFS weather forecast model, which was published by the Kachelmannwetter weather service on Twitter on Tuesday, up to 50 degrees could be reached on the Italian Adriatic coast on August 8. If the prediction turns out to be correct, it will be a new all-time record on the European continent. The previous temperature record was 48 degrees and was measured in Athens in July 1977.
Forecasts worry even weather experts. Meteorologist Clemens Grohe of Kachelmannwetter commented on the calculations, “I haven’t seen such maps yet, and one can only hope in southern and southeastern Europe that things don’t turn out like this.” It remains to be seen if temperatures really rise to record levels next week. Such long-term forecasts are often flawed.
Is Germany also experiencing a heat wave?
But there’s no doubt the weather will be hot: the DTN weather service is also forecasting temperatures over 40 degrees next week in southern Italy, the Balkans, Greece and parts of Turkey. According to DTN meteorologist Rainer Buchub, a possible record value of 50 degrees is possible due to the unusual duration of the heat phase – even if it is still difficult to predict at the moment.
“I don’t want to rule that out yet,” says Buchhop t-online. The weather expert explained that the reason for the continuous heat is a stable subtropical high pressure region in which hot air spreads from the Saharan region of North Africa to the regions of southeastern Europe.
According to the bookstore, such long periods of heat are not expected in Germany. Although temperatures in this country can repeatedly rise to more than 40 degrees locally, weeks of heat waves as in southern Europe will be “extremely unusual”. Most of the time, areas of low pressure in the Atlantic Ocean would interrupt the heat phases in central Europe before the air warms up again.
Heat encourages wildfires
The extreme heat in southern Europe can have severe consequences for the local population. Greek Civil Defense called on residents to be vigilant on Tuesday. Old and young children in particular should not expose themselves to heat. Since the temperatures do not drop even at night, the recovery of the human body becomes very stressful. The longer severe weather lasts, the more dangerous it is to your health.
In addition, the soil and vegetation have dried up due to rising temperatures. This helps spread forest fires. From Portugal to Turkey, nearly every country along the Mediterranean coast has caught fire in recent weeks. Only on Wednesday did the Turkish Civil Protection Agency announce three deaths as a result of forest fires near the tourist resort of Antalya. The fires also caused massive damage to the Italian holiday island of Sardinia days ago, and about 20,000 hectares of forest area has already been destroyed.
A forest fire near the Greek city of Patras. (Source: imago / ANE Edition)
In Greece, about 50 bush and forest fires threatened several suburbs of the capital Athens at the start of the week. These are now under control again, but bad memories are waking up in the country in the light of the constant heat and strong winds. In 1987, an estimated 4,000 people died in a similar period of heat. At that time, there were few air conditioning systems and city apartments became a deadly trap, especially for the elderly.
Temperature records continue to fall
It wasn’t until the end of June that the dramatic proportions of Canada’s extreme heat phases became clear. With temperatures just below 50 degrees Celsius, more than 700 people have died in the province of British Columbia on the Pacific coast alone. In the village of Lytton, 49.6 degrees were measured – a new record. The peak value in Canada was previously 45 degrees. A few days later, bushfires completely destroyed the community.
Other places in the Northern Hemisphere recently set new temperature records. In the Russian city of Pechora, which is located on the edge of the Arctic, 32.5 degrees were measured in May, according to the state weather service, the thermometer in Norwegian Lapland showed 34.3 degrees at the beginning of July.
The relationship between global warming and heat waves
The fact that such thermal records occur frequently is also due to global warming. This is the result of a study conducted by an international team of researchers and published in early July. Scientists fed more than 20 simulations with the latest heat data from Canada and the USA.
Without global warming, a heat wave like the one in Canada would have occurred 150 times less than normal, Dutch climate researcher Sjokje Filip told SRF. Temperatures were also two degrees lower on average. However, extreme heat waves are still very rare today. According to the researchers, it is estimated that such a heat wave occurs once every thousand years. However, this can change as average temperatures increase.