The heat wave that has been hitting southwestern Europe for several days will reach its peak in Spain this Thursday, where temperatures already exceeded 45ºC the day before, while forest fires are multiplying.
The heat wave in the Iberian Peninsula will last from a week to ten days, that is, at least until Sunday or perhaps until the middle of next week.
Thursday “is expected to be the peak day of this heat wave episode,” warned the Spanish State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), which does not foresee, however, that the absolute heat record in Spain, of 47, will be broken. 4 ºC, recorded in August 2021 in Montoro, in Andalusia.
However, crushing heat is expected, above 40ºC, in the valleys of the Guadiana, the Tagus and the Guadalquivir, in the southwestern quadrant of the country, and in the center, according to the Aemet.
Likewise, the Spanish agency forecasts that the minimum temperatures will continue to rise to 24-26 degrees Celsius in the south and center of the country.
All of Spain, except the Canary Islands, is under alert due to high temperatures. Andalusia (south), Extremadura (southwest), and even Galicia (northwest), with a traditionally moderate climate, are on red alert.
The maximum temperature on Wednesday in Spain was recorded at 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. GMT) in Almonte, in Andalusia, and several cities exceeded 44 ° C, such as Seville, Córdoba or Badajoz.
Temperatures will ease over the weekend in Spain, particularly in the south and west, but the situation will remain sweltering in the north-west as the heat wave moves north towards France and the UK.
Temperatures will peak in France on Sunday or Monday, according to Météo-France forecasts for Wednesday.
“France is experiencing a heat wave that will intensify between Sunday and Tuesday,” forecasters said. “Temperatures will gradually drop from the west beginning Tuesday and Wednesday.”
“The axis of the highest temperatures will extend from the Pyrenees to the Pays de la Loire between Sunday and Monday, with night temperatures that will not drop below 20 to 25°C and daytime temperatures that may exceed 40°C in many places, and locally 42°C,” they noted.
– Heat and flames –
The most affected French regions will be the south-west and the lower Rhône (south-east).
With such heat, fires proliferate in southern Europe.
In Greece, a helicopter trying to put out a forest fire on Samos has crashed into the Aegean Sea, the Greek coastguard said on Wednesday.
“There is one survivor and a rescue operation is underway to find the other three crew members,” a coastguard official told AFP.
In Portugal, a fire on Tuesday night killed one person in the northern region of Aveiro, according to emergency services. According to the Correio da Manha newspaper, the victim was a woman in her 50s.
The center of the country, prey to flames since Thursday, continues to be the most affected by the forest fires, which resumed on Tuesday afternoon, fueled by heat and wind.
Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, warned in recent days of a critical situation of “very, very dry soils” and the impact of temperatures on the glaciers of the Alps.
In France, two fires fueled by “dry vegetation, especially undergrowth”, according to authorities, have devastated 2,700 hectares of pine trees in the Bordeaux region (southwest) since Tuesday afternoon.
“We have two complicated fires”, with a “wind that rotates in both places”, in Landiras, near Bordeaux, and in La Teste-de-Buch, near the very touristic dune of Pilat, “which forces us to reassess the fire-fighting device at all times”, explains Matthieu Jomain, commander of the fire brigade.
The intensity of this second heat wave affecting the country in a month could be “equivalent” to the deadly heat wave of August 2003 (with almost 19,500 deaths in France), said Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo-France. It lasted two weeks.
High temperatures will also spread to other parts of western or central Europe.
In the United Kingdom, the meteorological agency (Met Office) issued an orange alert for a wave of “extreme heat” starting on Sunday, with temperatures above 35º.