Spain, France and other western European countries sweltered on Saturday under a scorching June heat wave that sparked wildfires and raised fears that such early summer heat waves could become now the norm.
Saturday’s weather was the peak of a heat wave in June, which is in line with scientists’ predictions that such phenomena will now occur earlier in the year thanks to global warming.
The city of Biarritz in southwestern France, one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts, experienced its highest temperature ever at 41 degrees on Saturday, state forecaster Meteo said. France.
Queues of several hundred people and traffic jams have formed outside water parks in France as locals see the water as the only refuge from the devastating heat.
The Seine being prohibited for swimming, burnt Parisians took refuge in the fountains of the city.
Temperatures in France could reach 42 degrees Celsius in some regions on Saturday, Météo France said, adding that June records had already been broken in 11 regions on Friday.
“This is the first heat wave ever recorded in France” since 1947, specifies Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo France.
With “many monthly or even absolute temperature records likely to be broken in several regions”, he called the weather a “marker of climate change”.
Forest fires are raging
In a major incident in France, a fire started by the firing of an artillery shell during military training in the Var region of southern France burned some 200 hectares (495 acres) of vegetation, local authorities said.
“There is no threat to anyone except 2,500 sheep who are being evacuated and brought to safety,” local fire chief Olivier Pecot said.
The fire originated from the Canjeurs military camp, the largest such training site in Western Europe. The work of the fire services was hampered by the presence of unexploded ordnance in the deserted area, but four Canadair planes were deployed to bombard the fires with water.
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The country’s farmers must adapt. Daniel Toffaloni, a 60-year-old farmer near the southern city of Perpignan, now only works “from daybreak until 11:30 a.m.” and in the evening, as temperatures in his tomato greenhouses reach a sizzling 55 degrees.
Wildfires in Spain on Saturday had burned nearly 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land in the northwestern Sierra de la Culebra region.
The flames forced several hundred people from their homes and 14 villages were evacuated.
Some residents were able to return on Saturday morning, but regional authorities warned that the fire “remains active”.
Firefighters were still battling blazes in several other areas, including the forests of Catalonia.
Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast for parts of the country on Saturday – with highs of 43 degrees Celsius expected in the northeastern city of Zaragoza.
There have also been fires in Germany, where temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius on Saturday, although they only reached 36 degrees Celsius. A fire in the Brandenburg region around Berlin had spread to around 60 hectares on Friday evening.
A taste of the future
Dutch authorities said they expected Saturday to be the hottest day of the year so far.
The UK recorded its hottest day of the year on Friday, with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees Celsius in the early afternoon, meteorologists said.
“I think right now people are just enjoying it being warm, but if it’s hotter than that, which I think it’s supposed to do, then that’s a concern,” said Claire Moran, editor in London.
Several towns in northern Italy have announced water rationing and the Lombardy region could declare a state of emergency as record drought threatens crops.
Italian dairy cows were producing 10% less milk, the main agricultural association, Coldiretti, said on Saturday.
With temperatures well above the cows’ “ideal climate” of 22-24 degrees Celsius, the animals were drinking up to 140 liters of water a day, doubling their normal intake and producing less due to stress, it said. -he declares.
Experts warned that the high temperatures were caused by worrying trends in climate change.
“Due to climate change, heat waves are starting earlier,” said Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.
“What we are witnessing today is unfortunately a taste of the future” if concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise and push global warming towards 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, she added.