“Just hell.” 5 countries affected by the heat wave in Europe – POLITICO

As Europe feels the heat, the politicians are sweating.

In the UK, an emergency Cabinet meeting was called on Saturday to discuss Britain’s first-ever ‘Extreme Red’ heat warning. In France, a lawmaker described the sweltering weather as “hell”. In Portugal, the Prime Minister monitors dangerous forest fires.

While temperatures in western Europe are expected to top 40 degrees Celsius next week, southern Europe is already battling the effects of more scorching summer heat, which scientists say is the result of global climate change.

Across the Mediterranean, firefighters struggled to contain the blazes, rivers dried up and thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. So far, more than 230 people have died from the heat in Spain and 238 in Portugal, according to local media.

Temperatures – the result of an area of ​​slow-moving high pressure, bringing scorching air from North Africa – are expected to continue this week and move north and east towards France, Germany, Belgium and the UK.

Here are five countries feeling the effects of the heat wave in Europe.

Portugal

Fires have been burning in multiple areas since last week, with nearly 250 new blazes reported on Friday and Saturday, most northeast of Porto.

Lousã, in central Portugal, hit a record 46.3 degrees on Wednesday. The government has announced a red alert in 16 of the mainland’s 18 districts with more than 100 municipalities at maximum risk of rural fires. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa canceled a planned state visit to Mozambique in order to stay and monitor the fires.

“We are facing an almost unprecedented situation on the meteorological level,” said André Fernandes, the national commander of civil protection, on Saturday.

Spain

A helicopter drops water on a raging forest fire in Spain’s Sierra de Mijas mountain range | Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly half of the forested area of ​​the Sierra de la Culebra, a mountain range in northwest Spain, has burned, making it the largest recorded fire in Spanish history, with areas of Figueruela de Arriba always lit.

Near the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, a popular tourist destination, around 2,300 people had to flee a forest fire that spread through the Sierra de Mijas mountain range.

Added to the heat, a lack of rainfall means Spain’s reservoirs were at 44.4% of full capacity on Wednesday – down from an average of 65.7% during this period over the past decade, authorities say .

Italy

The Po River in Italy has reached record water levels after months without heavy rains | Marco Sabadin/AFP via Getty Images

The Po River, Italy’s longest, has reached record water levels after months without heavy rain. Stretching from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, the vital water source is used for drinking, irrigation and hydroelectric power. In the Piedmont region of northern Italy, more than 170 municipalities have issued or plan to issue water consumption ordinances, which mean a ban on any use other than for food, home use and health care. Anyone caught using water for irrigating public or private gardens, washing yards or cars could be fined up to €500.

Italy’s tottering government has declared a state of emergency across much of the north.

On Saturday, Bishop Enrico Solmi held a Mass on the banks of the river in homage to personally affected families. The procession ended with the blessing of the waters and a prayer for rain, which has not been seen for over 200 days.

France

Evacuation centers have been set up to help 1,000 people forced to flee as wildfires raged in southwestern France | Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images

In France, more than 10,000 people have been evacuated from areas in the south-west of the country, as fires rage in the Gironde department.

According to local media, three major fires are still active and more than 5,000 hectares of land have burned. On Saturday, the meteorological service extended its orange heatwave alert to 38 departments, from Brittany to the Côte d’Azur.

French green legislator Melanie Vogel tweeted ground surface temperature was measured at 59 degrees in Spain and 48 degrees in southern France. “It’s not just summer,” she wrote. “It’s just hell and it will soon become the end of human life if we continue our climate inaction.”

UK

British government officials have warned that the country should prepare for the hottest days in its history on Monday and Tuesday, with temperatures expected to reach a record 40 degrees. The Weather Bureau has issued the first-ever red alert for exceptional heat, which means healthy people, not just the vulnerable, could be at risk of getting sick and dying.

An emergency cabinet meeting – the second on the matter – is held on Saturday to discuss the heat wave. Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge urged people with vulnerable relatives or neighbors “to ensure they put appropriate measures in place… because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red alert zone, people’s lives are in danger”.

Several actions have been proposed by the government, including rail speed limits on certain parts of the network to limit damage and the closure of schools in the south of the country.

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