Europe heatwave: UK sees third hottest day on record, bushfires sweep through France and Spain

Europe heatwave: UK sees third hottest day on record, bushfires sweep through France and Spain
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The fire has spread 27,000 acres in the Gironde department in southwestern France, forcing 32,000 people to evacuate, the local prefecture said Monday night.

The nearby town of Cazaux recorded 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the highest temperature since its weather station opened more than 100 years ago in 1921, according to the French national weather service Météo France.

Major cities in western France, such as Nantes and Brest, have also hit new heat records, it said.

In Finistère, on the country’s Atlantic coast, the first fires were reported on Monday afternoon; less than eight hours later, the flames had decimated more than 700 acres of land, prompting the evacuation of several villages.

In Spain, forest fires swept through the central region of Castilla y León on Sunday, as well as the northern region of Galicia. Reuters reported. The fire also forced the state railway company to suspend service between Madrid and Galicia.

More than 70,000 hectares have been destroyed in Spain due to fires this year, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday. “Seventy thousand hectares, to give you an idea, is almost double the average of the last decade,” he said.

The heat wave in Portugal has intensified a pre-existing drought and caused forest fires in the center of the country, including the town of Memoria, in the municipality of Leiria.

The country’s Carlos III Health Institute on Monday estimated a cumulative total of more than 510 deaths related to the heat wave in the country, according to a statistical calculation of excess deaths.

Hundreds have also died in neighboring Portugal, where sweltering temperatures are exacerbating a severe drought.

On Saturday, Portugal’s Health Ministry said 659 people, mostly elderly, had died in the previous seven days, Reuters reported.

An elderly couple also died on Monday after their vehicle overturned while fleeing forest fires in northern Portugal, the country’s state broadcaster RTP reported.

In total, more than 1,100 people are believed to have died due to the ongoing heat wave in southern Europe.

‘peak intensity’

The scorching heat wave is expected top early this week.

As the heat wave moves across the country, the French capital Paris is expected to reach 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.

In the UK, where temperatures on Monday reached 38.1 degrees in Santon Downham in eastern England, making it the third-hottest day on record, authorities warned things were likely to get worse.

The head of the UK Met Office said the country could experience the "hottest day"  registered on Monday.

Tuesday is “expected to be even hotter,” according to Met Office chief executive Penelope Endersby.

“It is tomorrow that we will really see the highest probability of 40 degrees and temperatures above that,” Endersby told BBC Radio on Monday.

“Even possibly above that, 41 is not out of the question. We even have some 43 in the model, but we hope it won’t be that high.”

In France, the heat wave is expected to move away from the western part of the country on Tuesday and head towards the center and east, including Paris.

The Royal Belgian Meteorological Institute (KMI/IRM) issued a “code red” weather warning for heat in two provinces on Tuesday, forecasting temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the west and southwest.

“With such high temperatures, certain measures will be necessary: ​​drink regularly, wear lighter clothes, spend the day in cooler rooms, periodically monitor the state of health, eat easily digestible foods (and in smaller portions), keep doors and Windows closed to keep the heat out. Pets and animals also need extra care,” he warned residents.

facing the drought

Nearly half of Europe, including the UK, is ‘at risk’ of drought, according to EU Commission researchers said Monday.

The Joint Research Center highlighted that the drought in much of Europe is “critical” as “winter and spring rainfall deficits… were exacerbated by the first heat waves in May and June.”

The water supply could be “compromised” in the coming months, according to the report.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, Oxford University professor Myles Allen warned that such heatwaves will be inevitable if humanity doesn’t reduce its carbon emissions soon.

“This is not a new normal because we are on a trend toward higher and higher temperatures,” Allen told CNN on Monday.

The solution, he said, is a radical change in the entire energy industry. Individual companies are unlikely to unilaterally change their business models due to concerns about losing competitiveness with rivals, he added.

“It has to be regulation on the industry as a whole,” Allen said.

Joseph Ataman, Jimmy Hutcheon, and Xiaofei Xu reported from Paris. Zahid Mahmood and Sana Noor Haq reported from London. CNN’s Renee Bertini, James Frater and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this article.

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