Europe’s Searing Heat Wave to Intensify in Greece Over the Weekend

Extreme heat across the Mediterranean is expected to build into the weekend, testing records in fire-ravaged Greece after easing slightly on Thursday.

(Bloomberg) — Extreme heat across the Mediterranean is expected to build into the weekend, testing records in fire-ravaged Greece after easing slightly on Thursday.

Temperatures on the Italian island of Sardinia climbed close to a record of 47.7C (118F) on Wednesday, but Greece and the Balkans are becoming the new focus of the Saharan anticyclone. Forecast highs will reach 46C on Sunday, according to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service. The country’s all-time high of 48C was set in Athens in 1977, standing as a European record until it was eclipsed by Sicily’s 48.8C two years ago. 

Most of the wildfires burning around Athens have been brought under control, though authorities are evacuating an area close to Mandras, northwest of the capital. The blaze on the Greek island of Rhodes is still burning, but is no longer threatening homes.

As heat, floods and fires torment the Northern Hemisphere, Washington’s climate envoy John Kerry said the US and China — the world’s biggest polluters — need more time to “break new ground” in their shared mission to combat global warming. Those heat waves are set to become more intense and prolonged as burning fossil fuels spurs a deadly climatic spiral.

After the hottest ever June, the world has seen record temperatures for 16 days this month.

The lull in the intense heat for the Mediterranean will be brief, with the latest wave lasting until July 26, according to the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts.

As a new heat blast threatens Greece, the country’s health ministry advised people to wear light clothes and hats, while taking plenty of showers and drinking liquids. Work places should have air-conditioning or fans that are “preferably in the ceiling,” it added.

Italy’s ministry of health warned of emergency conditions in 19 major cities, including Rome, Naples and Florence.

Italy’s labor ministry is meeting employers’ and trade union associations to discuss the existing measures to protect against heat peaks after a number of fatalities in recent days. A man collapsed while painting street markings for a pedestrian crossing in Milan, and a truck driver was found dead inside his vehicle in the same Lombardy region.

Other parts of the region are also preparing, with heat wave alerts for nine areas of southeast France extending into Friday. Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur broke, reached a new record of 39.1C on Wednesday, following the highs in Rome and Catalonia the day before. 

And while most blazes have been brought under control in Greece, the risk wildfires across Spain is high.

Still, there is a stark divide in Europe, with many northern regions experiencing a cool July.

On Saturday, London is forecast to see a maximum of just 16.5C, which is 6C below the norm, according to Maxar Technologies Inc. That outlook is echoed across northern France, Germany and the Nordics for most of the coming 10 days.

–With assistance from Paul Tugwell, Antonio Vanuzzo and Sonia Sirletti.

(Updates with Sardinia near record in second paragraph, wildfire evacuation in third and details on Italy from eighth)

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