Europe is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave with temperatures in major cities across the continent reaching record values for the start of summer. On the day of summer solstice on Wednesday, June 21, which is the longest of the year temperatures in Paris climbed to 37 degrees Celsius, 38 in Madrid and 34 in London, and are approaching record highs for this time of the season.
More than 1,000 firefighters were still fighting to control the flames that broke out in central Portugal at the weekend, killing 64 people.
Two forest fires have also broken out since Sunday on Croatia’s southern Adriatic coast, prompting the authorities to evacuate 800 tourists, though the blazes have now been brought under control.
Britain saw its hottest June since 1979. In Guildford, southwest of the capital, a road surface melted on Tuesday, with motorists likening it to a bar of chocolate left out in the hot sun.
In Italy, forecasters say the current heatwave could turn out to be the most intense in 15 years, with temperatures around eight degrees above the seasonal average—39 C in Milan and up to 30 in the Alps at an altitude of 1,000 metres.
In Russia, Siberia was also suffering a heatwave, with temperatures of up to 37 Celsius in the city of Krasnoyarsk, Channel One television reported.
But at the other extreme, it was just one degree Celsius and snowing in Murmansk in northern Russia, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Many residents are having to get by with no heating in their flats as centralised systems have been switched off for the summer.
The heat wave is expected to hit Greece from the middle of next week.
If the current hot weather patters continue temperatures are expected to skyrocket over 41 degrees Celsius by the middle of next week in the country, despite the fact that forecasts project a slight drop in the heat from Monday till Wednesday next week, mainly in the east and north of the country. Temperatures are forecast to clim to 39 degrees Celsius over the weekend.
The World Meteorological Organisation said that based on the development of temperatures over the past two months, the earth is seeing one of its hottest seasons and the the heat waves have arrived prematurely. “Parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States of America have seen extremely high temperatures in May and June, which amount to record-breaking values,” the agency said in a statement.
The trend recorded over the past two months places the average global temperatures among the highest recorded since its release in 1880.