After the second warmest June on record, Western Europe is preparing for a second dangerous summer heat wave.
The UK, Portugal, Spain and France are facing record temperatures this week, with little relief in sight.
Hot conditions will continue to exacerbate the wildfires burning in southwestern Europe. There are level 3 heat alerts, the highest possible, in 14 states in Portugal and eastern Spain through the weekend.
UK temperature record
The UK Met Office on Monday issued a ‘rare’ warning of extreme amber temperatures for Sunday 17 July, as it looks like sweltering temperatures will rise later this week across much of England and Wales.
“Heat health alerts have been issued across the country, with temperatures set to remain consistently high this week,” said Dr Agostinho Souza, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK’s Health Security Agency.
The UK’s record high temperature reached 38.7 degrees Celsius, which could be exceeded this weekend, according to the Met Office.
Rebecca Sherwin of the Met Office said: “Some models indicate that maximum temperatures will exceed 40C in parts of the UK over the next weekend and beyond.”
As the country prepares, authorities are warning of risks to vulnerable communities.
“Adverse health effects are likely to occur in the population, and are not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, which can lead to serious or life-threatening illness,” the Met Office said. “More people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers, which will put them at greater risk of water safety incidents.”
The UK could also see road closures due to melting snow, as well as train and air travel delays amid extreme temperatures.
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Spain, Portugal, France and Italy
Before the heat travels to the UK, it will bring scorching heat to Spain and Portugal, where “extreme” heat alerts, the highest, have been issued in 14 states in both countries. Temperatures in Lisbon and Santarem could reach 45 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.
The Spanish Meteorological Service reported on Monday that the heat wave is expected to last until at least the end of the week on the peninsula.
But it is not only the Iberian Peninsula that is suffocating in the heat. France will also remain hot into the weekend, with temperatures hovering around 30°C. Heat alerts cover parts of eastern France, including Toulouse and Bordeaux.
The European region is aware of this. Last month, Europe set record high temperatures and the second-warmest June on record.
“Daily maximum temperatures in Spain, France and Italy have risen to more than 40 degrees Celsius, and extreme heat has exacerbated the current drought conditions in the Po River Basin,” European Climate Change Service Copernicus said.
Much of Italy also suffered from a summer heat wave. The highest level will be reached at 38°C in Verona on Friday.
Eleven people died on July 3 after an avalanche hit the Marmolada glacier in the Italian Alps. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi blamed the collapse on “the deterioration of the environment and the climate situation”.
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Last week, the Italian government declared a state of emergency for five regions in northern Italy due to a severe drought.
“Most of us can enjoy warm weather when it arrives, but it is also important to stay hydrated and seek shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” Dr. Souza said. “If you have family, friends, and vulnerable neighbors, make sure they know how to protect themselves from the hot weather.”
Forest fire danger
The Portuguese Civil Protection Department said in a press conference on Saturday that 35 forest fires in Portugal have so far injured 29 people.
The European Commission has mobilized its fleet of firefighters to help Portugal, and according to CNN Portugal, more than 80 municipalities in 10 provinces are at risk of fire in the coming days.
Ourem fire, 128.7 kilometers north