Europe is to face another scorching heatwave of up to 47 °C. The continent is already experiencing extreme weather from the Sahara Desert, with a red alert in place. British tourists in the Mediterranean are warned about the life-threatening effects of the oppressive heat caused by Cerberus, a northward-expanding high-pressure system. As Cerberus weakens, Italian forecasters predict another heatwave named ‘Charon’ will raise temperatures to 43C in Rome and possibly reach 47C in Sardinia next week.
With Cerberus, land temperatures in southern Spain surpassed 60C, raising concerns of continental records being broken next week, as per the European Space Agency.
In Athens, the intense heat compelled rescue workers to transport overheated tourists from the Acropolis citadel to ambulances. Tragic incidents occurred, including the death of a 44-year-old street painter in Lodi, Italy, and the drowning of two children in Manfredonia. The high-pressure system Cerberus, named after the three-headed dog of Greek mythology, will drive temp above 45C in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey by the end of next week.
Sardinia and Sicily in Italy are expected to bear the brunt, with the BBC reporting potential temperatures of 48.8C. Meanwhile, temperatures in Britain are expected to cool down over the weekend, and the UK is not anticipated to be affected by Cerberus. The Met Office didn’t predict a heatwave reaching the country this summer. Red alert warnings have been issued by health ministry officials for ten major cities in Italy, including Florence and Rome. This indicates that the extreme heat poses a health risk to the entire population, not just vulnerable groups.
The ongoing heatwave, expected to persist for two weeks, claimed its first life on Tuesday when a 44-year-old road sign worker collapsed in Lodi, southeast of Milan, as temperatures soared above 40C. The man, who remains unidentified, later passed away in the hospital. ‘We are facing an unbearable heatwave,’ Italian politician Nicola Fratoianni said. ‘Dying from the heat is unthinkable – we should be taking measures to avoid tragedies like this in the hottest hours of the day.’
Italian authorities are urging people to avoid unnecessary travel and abstain from consuming alcohol to minimize risks.
British tourists have been struggling with the heat, with some fainting in Rome as temp exceeded 40C. The heat is expected to intensify in the coming days. In Zaragoza, Spain, temperatures will reach 46C on Tuesday. Greece and Turkey, popular destinations for British tourists, will experience a scorching temp of 45C, with many areas not dropping below 40C for the next week. Greece’s national weather service has predicted a six-day heatwave starting July 12. Cyprus is also expecting temperatures of 42C on Saturday.
However, Italy is enduring the brunt of the heatwave, with Sicily and Sardinia set to reach 48.8C, according to the BBC. In Rome, temperatures are projected to soar to 41C next week. Carlo Cacciamani, head of Italy’s national meteorological and climatology agency, said the unusually hot weather hitting the country is because the Cerberus anticyclone has pushed out a colder weather system from the Azores which influences summer weather in Italy. ‘This is happening more frequently and means we see temperatures around 40C instead of the normal 30-31C,’ Cacciamani told The Times.
In Greece, access to nature reserves and forests is restricted to prevent wildfires. Air-conditioned areas in public buildings are available for people to find relief from the heat.
Sun shades will be installed at the Acropolis in Athens to address incidents of tourists fainting. The Red Cross is providing free water to visitors waiting in queues to visit the Parthenon. Union representatives for site staff are demanding higher wages due to the extreme heat. Greece’s culture minister, Linda Mendoni, has committed to implementing additional measures to protect tourists. Scientists have relentlessly warned of the damaging effects of climate change.
Scientists also highlighted withering crops, melting glaciers, and raising the risk of wildfires, higher-than-normal temp also causes health problems ranging from heatstroke and dehydration to cardiovascular stress. ‘How many more summers will we have to go through before we begin to convince ourselves of the fact that the rise in temperatures may not be a sporadic extraordinary event at all, but rather an irreversible process that has in fact already begun,’ Italian immunologist Mauro Minelli told the Leggo newspaper.
The Red Cross advises checking on neighbors, staying hydrated, and being vigilant for signs of heatstroke. Greece’s agriculture ministry imposes restrictions on working animals during the heatwave, including limited working hours and temperature thresholds. Climate change and the El Nino weather pattern are said to have contributed to the unprecedented temperatures. ‘The world just had the hottest week on record, according to preliminary data,’ the WMO said in a statement.
‘Temperatures are breaking records both on land and in the oceans, with ‘potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment’, the WMO added. ‘We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Nino develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024,’ said Christopher Hewitt, WMO Director of Climate Services. ‘This is worrying news for the planet.’ Over 61,000 people died from heat-related causes during Europe’s record-breaking summer last year, with the majority being individuals over 80 years old.
According to research in the journal Nature Medicine, about 63% of heat-related deaths were women. The world has experienced an average warming of nearly 1.2C since the mid-1800s, leading to more intense heatwaves, droughts, and stronger storms due to rising sea levels. Increasing ocean temperatures have harmful effects on marine life, disrupt weather patterns, and impact vital planetary systems. In June, global sea surface temperatures reached unprecedented levels, while Antarctic Sea ice hit a new low.
‘If the oceans are warming considerably, that has a knock-on effect on the atmosphere, on sea ice and ice worldwide,’ said Michael Sparrow, chief of the World Climate Research Programme at the WMO. ‘There’s a lot of concerns from the scientific community and a lot of catch-ups from the scientific community trying to understand the incredible changes that we’re seeing at the moment.’ El Nino drives increased heat worldwide, as well as drought. Mr. Sparrow added that its effects would likely be felt more acutely later in the year. ‘El Nino hasn’t really got going yet,’ he said.
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