Europe and US heatwaves match climatologists’ grim predictions

Tourists leave the Acropolis in Athens after the site was forced to close by the unprecedented heat.

Tourists leave the Acropolis in Athens after the site was forced to close by the unprecedented heat. Photo: AAP

Unrelenting heat is baking much of Europe as summer temperatures soar to new records as climate scientists warn that time is running out for an overheated planet.

Some regions are facing temperatures that are expected to remain well above 40 degrees Celsius, the European Space Agency says.

The Acropolis, in the Greek capital of Athens, was closed on Friday between noon and 5pm due to extreme heat.

In the morning, a tourist suffered a mild heat stroke while visiting the Acropolis, Athens’ archaeological landmark. She was taken to hospital but is not in danger, the emergency services said.

Similar conditions prevailed in Cyprus. On Friday, when thermometers in the capital Nicosia read 43C, the island’s radio reported.

Emergency measures

Cities and municipalities across Greece opened air-conditioned buildings for citizens to seek shelter from the scorching heat.

According to meteorologists in Athens, there is no sign of temperatures dropping to the usual 35C for the time of year.

There is no relief in sight for Italy either – after this week’s so-called Cerberus heatwave, named after the three-headed monster that features in Dante’s inferno – meteorologists said it will be even hotter next week.

Parts of Germany will heat up on Saturday. Temperatures will rise to 30C and 37C in the eastern and southern regions of the country, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

Experts pointed to climate change.

Global warming’s growing impact

“Extreme weather events, which are occurring with increasing frequency in our warming climate, have significant impacts on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, and energy and water supplies,” said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary General Petteri Taalas in Geneva.

“This underscores the increasing urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as profoundly as possible.”

In many places in the southwest of the United States, extreme temperatures that could break records are forecast.

The city of Phoenix in Arizona has already had 15 days in a row with temperatures exceeding 43.3C with mobile clinics treating homeless people suffering from third degree burns and severe dehydration.

“This weekend there will be some of the most serious and hot conditions we’ve ever seen,” said David Hondula the city’s chief heat officer. “I think that it’s a time for maximum community vigilance.”

America swelters too

The heat was expected to continue well into next week as a high pressure dome moves west from Texas.

Firefighters in southern California were battling three separate brush fires on Friday afternoon amid blistering heat.

The fires were all within 65km of each other in mostly rural areas across Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles.

Nearly 1000 homes were under evacuation orders, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or property loss, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

On Mexico’s northern border across from California, Mexicali saw temperatures hit 50C this week, forcing many residents to stay inside.


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