European heatwave takes hold as forecasters warn of record temps

Forecasters warn of threat to life across France and Germany where temperatures could hit 116F TODAY as Europe swelters under an extreme heatwave

  • Majority of France and Germany were issued with heat warnings on Tuesday
  • Temperatures in French cities could reach equivalent of 116F (47C) today
  • Forecasters compared weather to 2003 heatwave when 15,000 people died
  • German forecasters warned of dangerously high temperatures across country
  • Traffic officials  imposed speed restrictions on motorways amid fears the surface could ‘blow up’ the heat, while fire crews warned of forest fires

French citizens have been warned of a threat to life while most of Germany was also issued with a heat warning Tuesday as a heatwave settled in across Europe. 

Meteorologists warned that temperatures in French cities will reach the equivalent of 116F (47C) when high humidity is taken into account.

As a result national forecaster Météo France issued an orange warning – meaning there is a threat to life, even among otherwise health people – across more than half of the country, including Paris and the surrounding areas.

A heat warning was also issued across the majority of Germany, as people were warned to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.

Authorities in Saxony-Anhalt, to the west of Berlin, have imposed a 60mph speed limit on motorways amid fears the surface could crack and ‘blow up’ as it did during a heatwave in 2015.

A Europe-wide heatwave established itself Tuesday as forecasters in France and Germany issued heat warnings for most of the country

A plume of Saharan air could bring record-breaking June temperatures across Europe this week, and will not peak in some places until Thursday or Friday

Meanwhile, in nearby Brandenburg, firefighters were battling a blaze that has already consumed almost 250 acres of forest and have warned it will take several days to extinguish.

Officials warned people that the risk of forest fires is high and to take care during the heatwave, which is expected to last all week.  

French meteorologist Meteorologist Guillaume Séchet told Le Parisien: ‘The mercury will already reach incredible temperatures but with the humidity level in the air, the feeling will be terrible.

‘While we will have almost 40C in Paris, the atmosphere will be so heavy that we will feel the heat as if it were 47C.’

Parts of northern France were hit by powerful lightning storms on Tuesday morning, which drifted across the Channel to southern England, before the heat took hold. 

In Germany, forecasters said temperatures of 36C in areas like the Upper Rhine region, which includes parts of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse.

People are being told to avoid the sun and drink plenty of water as French forecasters warned of a threat to life, even among healthy people

Meteorologists compared this week’s weather to a heatwave in 2003 which killed an estimated 15,000 people in France (pictured, a woman sunbathes in Lyon)

More than half of France has been issued with an orange heat warning, meaning there is a threat to life

The majority of Germany was also issued with a heat warning (pictured in purple)

Wednesday will be even hotter, especially in the Rhine-Main area of western and central Germany. 

In the capital Berlin, highs of 37C are expected. In Düsseldorf, it will likely hit 35C.

However, it ‘will reach 39C and, in some places, even the 40C mark could be cracked,’ meteorologist Sabine Krüger said.  

Wednesday will likely be the warmest day of the year so far, with a new record for June possible. The current record is 38.2C, which was recorded in 1947 in Frankfurt.  

Temperatures in Germany could beat the previous June record of 38.2C (100.8F), set in Frankfurt in 1947, on Wednesday.  

To date, the most severe heatwave in France was in 2003, when temperatures in the capital hit a record high of 104.72F (40.7C) on June 22nd that year – only a fraction higher than this week’s expected highs. 

That heatwave killed an estimated 15,000 people. 

Officials across Europe have released guidelines for surviving the scorching weather and hospitals are on high-alert for a surge in admissions related to dehydration, heat-stroke and other weather-related conditions. 

In Paris, officials pledged to open ‘cool rooms’ inside public buildings, set up temporary water fountains and leave the city’s parks and gardens unlocked and accessible at night.   

City workers would also distribute water to the homeless and install fans in schools and nurseries. 

French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, deciding it was too hot to study, ordered national exams taken by students heading to high school postponed from Thursday and Friday to next week. 

France is wary of a repeat of the intense heatwave of summer 2003, when nearly 15,000 died over a two-week period, most of them elderly.     

In Germany, rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are at particular risk in high temperatures. 

Authorities in the eastern state of Brandenburg, which circles Berlin, say the risk of forest fires is at the highest level in the coming days.

Scientists say measurements show that heat waves in Europe are becoming more frequent. 

Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said ‘monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate.’

‘This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas,’ he added.

Britain’s MetOffice said it was particularly concerned that the heatwave could trigger ‘violent storms’ and warned Britons to expect ‘hot, humid and unstable’ weather.

It issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain and thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday, saying the highest temperatures would be in excess of 86F (30C)  in central and southwest England.

A German Federal Police helicopter carries water in a bucket to extinguish forest fire near Lieberoser Heide in eastern Germany

Officials in Paris have vowed to set up cool-zones for people to take a break from the heat (pictured, elderly people in an air-conditioned room in Souffelweyersheim)

A man wets his hat at a public fountain during an unusually early summer heatwave on June 24, 2019 in Rome

Spain’s AEMET weather agency issued a ‘yellow alert’ for severe weather on Sunday, but said it expected the heat to peak later in the week with temperatures soaring over 104F (40C), particularly inland.

‘Temperatures may exceed 42 degrees’ [107.6F] in the northeastern Ebro valley area from Thursday until Saturday, the agency said, indicating the heat could persist into early next week.   

And after last summer’s heatwave, farmers were again fearful the high temperatures could damage crops.

‘Should we get tropical temperatures of 35 degrees (95F) or more , that would depress the crop yields,’ farmers’ spokesman Joachim Rukwied told DPA news agency, saying grain crops had received just enough rainfall last month and were going through an ‘important growing phase’.    

In Belgium, the Royal Meteorological Institute also issued a severe heat warning, saying it was expecting temperatures in the range of 93F to 95F (34C to 35C) from Tuesday, with similar hot weather also expected in Switzerland.

Dutch officials issued a heat warning in seven of its 12 provinces Sunday.

They urged people, especially the young and elderly to drink plenty of water, to stay indoors and use protective clothing and sunblock.

The Dutch ‘Heat Plan’ comes into action when continuous temperatures above 80.6F (27C) are forecast.

Greece was also expected to record blistering temperatures this weekend, with forecasters warning of highs of 102F (39C) in some areas although they were seen falling earlier next week.

In the Balkans, soaring temperatures saw many people flocking to rivers, lakes and swimming pools in an effort to cool down last week, although a weekend of stormy weather helped take the edge off the heat.

This latest intense heatwave again shows the impact of global warming on the planet, and such weather conditions are likely to become more frequent, meteorologists said.   

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