A scorching heat wave is sweeping across Europe in the peak tourist season, bringing record-breaking temperatures and raising serious concerns about the adverse impact on people’s health.
Parts of Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and Italy are all facing intense heat, with temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius.
“Temperatures are sizzling across Europe this week amid an intense and prolonged period of heat. And it’s only just begun,” the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement. The ESA monitors land and sea temperatures via its satellites.
Heat is one of the deadliest natural hazards – more than 61,000 people died in Europe’s searing summer heat wave last year. The current heat wave – named “Cerberus” by the Italian Meteorological Society after the three-headed monster that features in Dante’s “Inferno” – has prompted further fears for people’s health, especially as it coincides with one of the busiest periods of Europe’s summer tourist season, according to a CNN report.
In Italy, temperatures could reach record-breaking levels. Sardinia and Sicily are expected to be close to the current European temperature record of 48.8 degrees Celsius, according to the ESA.
In Greece, The Acropolis, the country’s most popular tourist attraction, was closed during the hottest hours of the day to protect visitors, BBC reported.
Greece’s Culture Ministry announced the closure of the Acropolis on Friday from 12:00 to 17:00, saying similar measures were likely to follow on Saturday. Temperatures were expected to peak at 41C in central Athens.
People have been advised to drink at least two litres of water a day and to avoid coffee and alcohol, which are dehydrating.
There are also fears in Greece of a greater risk of wildfires, especially in areas with high winds. It suffered major wildfires in 2021 in another exceptional heatwave.
In Croatia, fires broke out on Thursday, burning houses and cars in at least one village, Grebastica, on the Dalmatian coast. Officials told Croatian TV on Friday morning that the fire had been brought under control.
High temperatures have also been reaching into central parts of Europe, with Germany and Poland among countries affected.
Czechia’s meteorological office issued a warning that temperatures at the weekend could go above 38C, which is exceptionally high for the country.
Heatwaves are also being seen in parts of the US, China, North Africa and Japan.
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has also issued a warning on extreme weather resulting from warming climate which it said is “unfortunately becoming the new normal.”
Periods of intense heat occur within natural weather patterns, but they are becoming more frequent and are lasting longer worldwide due to global warming.
A blistering US heatwave is forecast to intensify this weekend, with warnings issued across the south-west. Heat advisories late on Friday affected at least 113 million Americans, from Florida to Texas to California, up to the north-western state of Washington.
Saturday will also be exceptionally hot, with daytime highs forecast to hit up to 46C in some areas. The scorching heat is expected to linger until next week.