Large parts of Europe were blanketed by severe weather warnings on Saturday.
A heat wave was gripping southern countries with temperatures ranging from 35 to 40 degrees Celsius in parts of Spain, Italy and Greece. Warnings for heavy winds, rain and thunderstorms have been issued in parts of France and the UK.
The planet has already seen its hottest week on record in early July, a combination of man-made global warming exacerbated by El Nino, a naturally occurring weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean.
Governments and meteorological services in Europe have warned their citizens about the impact of extreme weather.
In Italy, the country’s health ministry has declared a “red alert” for 15 cities in tourist hotspots such as Rome and Florence between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, with advice to avoid sun and heat. The impact is “possible” not only for at-risk groups but also for healthy and active people, the ministry said.
In Greece, parks in the Athens region and the Acropolis site were closed for the second day in a row from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. to reduce the risk of wildfires, according to public broadcaster ERT. The Meteorological Center of the country said that the temperature will drop slightly from Sunday.
In Spain, the weather service said on Saturday that there was a “significant risk” for the Balearic Islands, which saw temperatures close to 40 degrees. In the updated advisory, a new period of high temperatures – a “brief episode but intense” – could follow between Monday and Wednesday. “Could exceed 42 degrees,” the service said.
France and the UK were warned of thunderstorms and heavy rain on Saturday. The UK’s Met Office said Méteo France had warned of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding for 10 departments in the Massif Central and the country’s northeast, expecting “a windy day at times”.
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