Europe braces for scorching June weekend heat » Capital News


Experts have warned that the high temperatures are being caused by worrying trends in climate change © AFP / RAYMOND ROIG

Paris (AFP), June 17 – Spain, France and other western European countries braced on Saturday for a sweltering June weekend that is set to break records, with wildfires and warnings about the effects of climate change.

Saturday’s weather will represent a peak of a heat wave in June, which is in line with scientists’ predictions that such phenomena will now occur earlier in the year thanks to global warming.

Wildfires in Spain on Saturday had burned nearly 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land in the northwestern Sierra de la Culebra region.

The flames forced several hundred people from their homes and 14 villages were evacuated.

Some residents were able to return on Saturday morning, but regional authorities warned that the fire “remains active”.

Firefighters were still battling blazes in several other areas, including the forests of Catalonia.

Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast for parts of the country on Saturday – with highs of 43 degrees Celsius expected in the northeast city of Zaragoza.

Wildfires in Spain on Saturday had scorched nearly 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) of land in the northwest, while there were also fires in Germany © AFP / Paul BARRENA

There were also fires in Germany, where temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius on Saturday. A fire in the Brandenburg region around Berlin had spread to around 60 hectares on Friday evening.

Temperatures in France could reach 42 degrees Celsius in some regions on Saturday, French meteorologist Météo France said, adding that June records had already been broken in 11 regions on Friday.

The country’s farmers must adapt. Daniel Toffaloni, a 60-year-old farmer near the southern city of Perpignan, now only works “from daybreak until 11:30 a.m.” and in the evening, as temperatures in his tomato greenhouses reach 55 degrees Celsius.

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– Record the temperatures –

“This is the first heat wave ever recorded in France” since 1947, said Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo France.

With “many monthly or even absolute temperature records likely to be broken in several regions”, he called the weather a “marker of climate change”.

Rock and metal fans were doused with water during the Hellfest music festival in western France © AFP / Loïc VENANCE

Dutch authorities said they expected Saturday to be the hottest day of the year so far.

The Netherlands’ national weather agency has issued a warning for the southern city of Limburg where temperatures could soar up to 35 degrees Celsius.

“Older people and people with vulnerable health may develop health problems due to the heat,” the agency said.

The UK recorded its hottest day of the year on Friday with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees Celsius in the early afternoon, meteorologists said.

– Drought and climate change –

Several towns in northern Italy have announced water rationing and the Lombardy region could declare a state of emergency as record drought threatens crops.

Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UN convention to reverse land degradation, warned on Friday that the drought would “increase in severity and frequency”.

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“The consequences of droughts could affect up to three quarters of humanity by 2050,” he said during a speech in Madrid.

Spain has been hit by a week-long heat wave, with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius expected on Saturday © AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER

Experts warned that the high temperatures were caused by worrying trends in climate change.

“Due to climate change, heat waves are starting earlier,” said Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.

“What we are witnessing today is unfortunately a taste of the future” if concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise and push global warming towards 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, she added.

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