Crowded beaches, besieged fountains, ice cream parlors on the limit: Spain, France and Italy are struggling with an exceptionally early heat wave. In Andalusia the thermometer climbed menacingly close to the 50 degree mark. In northern Greece, however, holidaymakers now need an umbrella.
Spain is experiencing the worst June heat wave since 1950, with temperatures locally exceeding 44 degrees Celsius. In the cities, people often seek refreshment in fountains, ice cream parlors and air-conditioned shopping malls, the media reported. Some of the beaches on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts were already full in the early morning. The record of this hot period was registered last Friday in Andújar, Andalusia, with 44.2 to 44.3 degrees.
According to the Aemet weather service, it should be particularly hot on Saturday with 40 to 42 degrees, especially in the regions of Catalonia, Navarra and Basque Country in the north-east and north of the country and in Andalusia in the south. Otherwise it will be anything but cool: In the capital Madrid, the mercury column is expected to climb up to 39 degrees. Up to 37 degrees are expected on the holiday island of Mallorca.
There is no real cooling down at night either, in large parts of the country the temperatures hardly drop to 20 degrees after the sun has set. The so-called tropical nights keep the Spaniards from sleeping. The heat and drought favor the outbreak of numerous forest fires, which, according to official figures, have already destroyed a good 25,000 hectares in various parts of Spain in just a few days. This corresponds to an area of around 35,000 football pitches. In the morning, the flames were still blazing uncontrollably in many places. The situation was worst in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range near the border with Portugal in north-west Spain, where 20,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed and 1,700 people have been evacuated.
Aemet announced that the heat wave would subside significantly after a good week on Sunday. In Madrid, for example, there should still be around 30 degrees. On Mallorca and in Navarra, locals and holidaymakers will continue to sweat profusely at temperatures of up to 37 degrees at least until Monday.
Heat waves are increasing in Spain, said Aemet spokesman Rubén del Campo. The absolute record was measured last August in Montoro in Andalusia: 47.4 degrees. This development is due to man-made climate change. Del Campo warned in an interview with the newspaper "La Vanguardia" that one should not be surprised if the 50-degree mark is reached at some point.
In France, too, the peak of a heat wave that has been going on for days with temperatures above 40 degrees is expected at the weekend. The weather service spoke of the earliest heat wave since 1947. On Saturday, almost the entire country is likely to be affected.
14 departments in the southwest of the country are on alert, according to the weather service, temperatures could reach up to 42 degrees locally. Several festivals, sporting and cultural events have been canceled due to the extreme heat. Heat records had already been broken in 11 communities on Friday - around 40.4 degrees were measured in Carcassonne.
It is also unusually hot in Great Britain: On Friday afternoon, temperatures had risen to over 30 degrees in some places, breaking the temperature records for the season for the third day in a row.
In northern Italy, the Po Valley is suffering from the worst drought in 70 years. In the heavily agricultural area, some communities are now rationing water distribution. According to the Coldiretti Agricultural Association, the drought is threatening half of the cultivated area in the Po Valley and almost a third of the country's agricultural production. Lombardy President Attilio Fontana spoke of an "extraordinarily difficult situation". He announced that a state of emergency would be declared soon.
In Greece, on the other hand, people in many places still have to have their umbrellas with them: In the north and west it will also rain at the weekend and there will be thunderstorms in some places. For example, on the Peloponnese peninsula, which is popular with tourists, and also in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki. However, it will remain warm in the rainy regions with temperatures around 27 degrees.
Those who vacation on Crete and the Cyclades islands, on the other hand, can look forward to clear sunshine and temperatures of around 30 degrees. Meteorologists expect that the heat wave over western Europe will not reach Greece until the middle of next week - and then probably in a weaker version.