European cities set all-time temperature records amid relentless heatwave


In northwestern Spain, the city of Ourense set its highest temperature record of 43.2 degrees Celsius (109.76 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, according to the Spanish meteorological agency AEMET.

On Wednesday, Zamora set its own record after reaching 41.1 degrees Celsius (105.98 degrees Fahrenheit), according to climate statistician Max Herrera. Soria set a record 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.66 degrees Fahrenheit) that same day.

The central Portuguese city of Lousã set a record 46.3 degrees Celsius (115.34 degrees Fahrenheit) and Lisbon set a July record high of 41.4 degrees Celsius (106.52 degrees Fahrenheit).

But the worst is yet to come.

Spain and Portugal brace themselves

Officials in Spain and Portugal are bracing for the heatwave’s hottest day yet.

According to AEMET, temperatures in parts of western and southern Spain will reach about 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). In the afternoon update, AEMET warned that Spain will experience the hottest day of the heat wave on Thursday.

The same is said of Portugal. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa told reporters that Thursday will be the “most serious day” for Portugal in terms of extreme weather, warning the country “must be more careful than ever to avoid new events”.

Eight of the country’s 18 mainland districts have been placed under a red weather warning by the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).

In light of the heightened risk, the country’s “state of alert” will be extended until Sunday, Costa added.

A member of the armed forces walks into a forest fire in Palmela, Portugal, on July 13.  The fire is currently near a gas station.  In an effort to save their lives, some people and animals are being evacuated.

Portugal remains one of the countries hardest hit by the current heat wave in Western Europe. There are currently 1,656 firefighters fighting the 10 active rural fires across Portugal, Portugal’s civil defense services said Thursday.

More than 7,400 hectares of forest have been burned in the Leiria district of central Portugal, according to the municipality of Leiria.

Thousands evacuated due to forest fires

France is in a similar situation. More than 6,500 people have been evacuated from their homes and campsites since Tuesday, according to regional police on Thursday as wildfires rage in the southwestern regions of the country.

More than 9,000 hectares have been destroyed by two major forest fires in the Gironde department, according to a statement from the department’s police.

A forest fire burns through vegetation in Landiras, southwestern France, on July 13.

About 1,000 firefighters from local and national brigades have been mobilized since Tuesday to stop the fires from spreading. Six water bombers are also deployed.

Grégory Allione, president of the National Federation of Firefighters, called on cities across the country to cancel their traditional Bastille Day fireworks, said Franceinfo on Thursday.

“What is responsible is to cancel them, what is responsible is to take into account that we are in a period of drought and heat waves,” Allione said, adding that the fires “are still developing, we expect to face difficulties today given the rise in temperature and the swirling wind.”

Firefighters are working to extinguish a wildfire that broke out on July 13 at the bottom of the Dune du Pilat near Teste-de-Buch, in southwestern France.

During a visit to the area on Wednesday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told journalists that authorities “were very vigilant in the coming days, especially in the south of France”.

The UK is next

The peak of the heat is now happening in the Iberian Peninsula and will spread to the north and east in the coming days.

A “rare” amber extreme heat warning issued by the UK Met Office for Sunday, July 17, has been extended to Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to hit the mid-30s.
The record temperature in the UK is 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which can be surpassed, according to the Met Office.

“Some models have produced maximum temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of the UK over the next weekend and beyond,” said Rebekah Sherwin of the Met Office.

Population-wide adverse health effects are likely to be experienced, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, which could lead to potentially serious illness or death, the Met Office said. “Significantly more people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers, leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents.”

The UK could also face road closures due to melting surfaces, as well as train and air travel delays in the heat of the extreme heat.

Brandon Miller of CNN contributed to the report.

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