London | Monday’s temperature records were breached in several French cities, with a heat wave in Western Europe threatening in particular to cross the UK’s 40C threshold on Tuesday for the first time.
• Read also: European heat wave causes forest fires
• Read also: Europe is still engulfed in bushfires and heatwave
This is the second phenomenon of its kind in barely a month in Europe, leading to violent fires in the Iberian Peninsula and France.
The proliferation of heat waves is a direct result of global warming according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration, and frequency.
In France, the map turned crimson over much of the Atlantic coast, with 15 divisions on red alert for a heat wave.
Records were broken in many cities – 39.5 degrees Celsius in Saint-Brieuc, 42 degrees Celsius in Nantes or 42.6 degrees Celsius in Biscarros, according to Météo France. The country’s absolute record, 46°C, was reached on June 28, 2019 in Vérargues (south).
8,000 people were “preventively evacuated” on Monday in two areas of La Teste de Buch (southwest), a town in the highly touristic Arcachon basin damaged by a massive fire for several days, on the edge of the Atlantic, the province announced.
“I go to my daughter (in another area of La Teste), but if she burns there too, I don’t know what to do,” says forty-year-old Patricia Montell as she fills up her car “in a panic.”
- Listen to Vincent Dessoriolet’s interview with Alexis Gilly, freelance journalist in Europe on QUB Radio:
Referring to the “non-standard” fires, the director of the Gironde fire brigade, Mark Vermeulen, confirmed that unprecedented phenomena were observed: “the fire literally explodes”, “the explosion of 40-year-old pine trunks”.
A man was taken into police custody on Monday as part of an investigation into another large fire in the area in Landeras that prosecutors said they favored the “criminal hypothesis”.
These two disasters, which did not result in casualties, destroyed more than 15,000 hectares of vegetation and forced 32,000 residents and vacationers to leave their places of residence. Five camp sites from which 6,000 vacationers were evacuated Wednesday night, at the foot of the dune du Pilate, “burned up to 90%,” according to authorities.
“It’s really warm here”
In the United Kingdom, 38.1 degrees Celsius was recorded in eastern England, the highest temperature this year, and the third on record.
Pour la première fois, l’Agence de sécurité sanitaire britannique a émis une alerte de niveau 4, le plus élevé, correspondant à une urgence nationale, mettant en garde contre les risques que la chaleur fait peser mênes/je sur en good health.
“Global warming does exist. We must act in the face of this phenomenon … and also learn to live with it,” commented Gary Evans, a 68-year-old retiree in the coastal resort of Tankerton, in the southeast of the country.
Britain’s highest temperature is expected on Tuesday and could cross the 40C threshold, the first of its kind in the country. The British record dates back to July 25, 2019, with a score of 38.7 in Cambridge, east England.
Some schools will remain closed, while major transportation disruptions are expected.
On Monday, Wales already beat its own record by 37.1 degrees Celsius. At Kew Garens in London, 37.5°C was recorded.
Traffic at London’s Luton Airport has been suspended due to a “surface defect” on the runway due to the heat.
fires in spain
Spain has been experiencing a stifling heat wave for more than a week, which has caused numerous fires that have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares.
On Monday, almost the entire country remained on “extremely severe” fire alert status, the highest. Spain, which has been suffocating since July 10 with highs well above 40C and falling slightly at night, should see a very short respite at the start of the week.
“Climate change is killing people (…), but also our ecosystem, our biodiversity,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez responded on Monday.
A shepherd was killed by raging fires in northwest Spain, the second fatality after a firefighter in the same area on Sunday.
After breaking the July temperature record on Thursday, with 47 degrees Celsius in the north of the country, Portugal should see a colder day, ending a week of heat waves.
In the center and north of the country, about 800 firefighters were still battling four fires on Monday. The civil protection stated that the forest fires within 10 days left four dead and five seriously injured and led to the evacuation of 960 people.
The mayor of Murca (North) announced on Monday that a couple in their 70s were found dead in their charred car. “They were in their home in the village of Benabis and decided to flee when the fire approached their house,” added Mario Artur Lopez. It looks like their car has left the road.
Nearly 44,000 hectares have burned since the start of the year, according to the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation, more than in 2017, when the fires killed about 100 people.
Today the Netherlands recorded its hottest day of the year yet, with a temperature of 35.4 degrees Celsius in the southwestern town of Westdorp. On Tuesday, temperatures could reach 39 degrees Celsius in southern and central Holland.
Belgium also fears a rise in temperatures on Tuesday, as the thermometer could rise in places as high as 40 degrees Celsius, according to the Royal Institute of Meteorology (IRM). Schedules have been arranged for some occupations exposed to heat.
About half of the EU’s territory is currently at risk of drought due to prolonged lack of rainfall, exposing countries such as France, Romania, Spain, Portugal and Italy to potentially lower crop yields, according to the European Commission.
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