European forecasters warn that ‘hell is coming’ as a record breaking heatwave is due to hit the continent tomorrow posing a threat to life.
With days of temperatures climbing to 104F (40C) and above in some cities, forecasters have predicted France may experience the highest temperatures it has ever seen for June.
The news has struck fear into many who recall the continent’s 2003 heatwave which saw 15,000 people die as temperatures reached a peak of 44.1C in mid august.
France’s national forecaster Météo-France has warned that temperatures may not lull until next week – even during the night.
As France continues to host the women’s world cup, officials are now considering whether to introduce water breaks in games to let the athletes cool down.
Meanwhile in Germany, usually speed-free autobahns had a 60mph limit imposed to stop ‘blow-ups’ – when the road surface disintegrates and shreds car tyres.
Temperatures of 97F (36C) were recorded at one swimming pool in the city of Essen, with conditions set to worsen tomorrow.
The heatwave is being caused by a plume of hot air being blown up from the Sahara by an unusually strong jet stream.
Tweeting a picture of an all-red weather map, Spanish forecaster Silvia Laplana joked: ‘El infierno [hell] is coming.’
Cooling off: A woman escapes from the heat in a fountain just across the river from the Eiffel Tower in Paris – where temperatures may feel as high as 117F (47C)
A woman adjusts her hair while walking under a cloudless sky next to the Colosseum in Rome, where temperatures could reach as high as 100F (38C) in the coming days
A Europe-wide heatwave established itself Tuesday as forecasters in France and Germany issued heat warnings for most of the country
A plume of Saharan air could bring record-breaking June temperatures across Europe this week, and will not peak in some places until Thursday or Friday
A temperature of 36C was recorded at a swimming pool in Essen, Germany, on Tuesday – with conditions set to worsen throughout the week
Visitors swim in a swimming pool in Essen, Germany, as the heatwaves settles in
Spanish forecaster Silvia Laplana tweeted this heat map of Spain on Monday, joking: ‘El infierno (hell) is coming’
French citizens were warned of a threat to life while most of Germany was also issued with a heat warning Tuesday morning.
Meteorologists said that temperatures in French cities will reach the equivalent of 116F (47C) when high humidity is taken into account.
As a result national forecaster Météo France issued an orange warning – meaning there is a threat to life, even among otherwise health people – across more than half of the country, including Paris and the surrounding areas.
A heat warning was also issued across the majority of Germany, as people were warned to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.
Authorities in Saxony-Anhalt, to the west of Berlin, have imposed a 60mph speed limit on motorways amid fears the surface could crack and ‘blow up’ as it did during a heatwave in 2015.
Meanwhile, in nearby Brandenburg, firefighters were battling a blaze that has already consumed almost 250 acres of forest and have warned it will take several days to extinguish.
Officials warned people that the risk of forest fires is high and to take care during the heatwave, which is expected to last all week.
French meteorologist Meteorologist Guillaume Séchet told Le Parisien: ‘The mercury will already reach incredible temperatures but with the humidity level in the air, the feeling will be terrible.
A boy back flips to jump in the water at Amager Beach Park in Copenhagen, Denmark, today
People cool down in a fountain in the Trocadero gardens in Paris, across from the Eiffel Tower
Children jump in the water at The Snail, an attraction at Amager Beach Park in Copenhagen, Denmark
France is considering letting players at the women’s World Cup take water breaks, while fans were allowed to bring water into the game between Sweden and Canada last night
An elderly person drinking a glass of water to avoid heatstroke in Clermont-Ferrand, France
Holidaymakers crowd at the beach of Binz on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, north Germany
People visit a swimming pool in the center of Lyon, central France
People walk around a lake at the melting Rhone Glacier in Furka, Switzerland, which will also see high temperatures this week
‘While we will have almost 40C in Paris, the atmosphere will be so heavy that we will feel the heat as if it were 47C.’
Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer also took the unusual step of delaying school exams that were due to be sat on Thursday and Friday until next week.
He said the decision was taken to ‘guarantee the security of the pupils’.
Meanwhile FIFA could be forced to introduce heat precautions at the women’s World Cup, which is being played in France
The precautions include holding cooling breaks during matches and postponing games if the heat is too intense.
On Monday night fans were allowed to bring their own bottles of water into the stadium to cool off as Sweden took on Canada.
French beekeepers and farming groups have said they are bracing for a ‘catastrophic’ honey harvest this year after frost damage in winter, an unusually rainy spring, and, now, unusually high temperatures.
‘In the hives, there is nothing to eat, beekeepers are having to feed them with syrup because they risk dying from hunger,’ added the union, which represents many small farms in honey-producing regions.
Parts of northern France were hit by powerful lightning storms on Tuesday morning, which drifted across the Channel to southern England, before the heat took hold.
People are being told to avoid the sun and drink plenty of water as French forecasters warned of a threat to life, even among healthy people
Meteorologists compared this week’s weather to a heatwave in 2003 which killed an estimated 15,000 people in France (pictured, a woman sunbathes in Lyon)
More than half of France has been issued with an orange heat warning, meaning there is a threat to life
The majority of Germany was also issued with a heat warning (pictured in purple)
In Germany, forecasters said temperatures of 36C in areas like the Upper Rhine region, which includes parts of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse.
Wednesday will be even hotter, especially in the Rhine-Main area of western and central Germany.
In the capital Berlin, highs of 37C are expected. In Düsseldorf, it will likely hit 35C.
However, it ‘will reach 39C and, in some places, even the 40C mark could be cracked,’ meteorologist Sabine Krüger said.
Wednesday will likely be the warmest day of the year so far, with a new record for June possible. The current record is 38.2C, which was recorded in 1947 in Frankfurt.
Temperatures in Germany could beat the previous June record of 38.2C (100.8F), set in Frankfurt in 1947, on Wednesday.
To date, the most severe heatwave in France was in 2003, when temperatures in the capital hit a record high of 104.72F (40.7C) on June 22nd that year – only a fraction higher than this week’s expected highs.
That heatwave killed an estimated 15,000 people.
Officials across Europe have released guidelines for surviving the scorching weather and hospitals are on high-alert for a surge in admissions related to dehydration, heat-stroke and other weather-related conditions.
In Paris, officials pledged to open ‘cool rooms’ inside public buildings, set up temporary water fountains and leave the city’s parks and gardens unlocked and accessible at night.
City workers would also distribute water to the homeless and install fans in schools and nurseries.
French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, deciding it was too hot to study, ordered national exams taken by students heading to high school postponed from Thursday and Friday to next week.
France is wary of a repeat of the intense heatwave of summer 2003, when nearly 15,000 died over a two-week period, most of them elderly.
A man cools himself down in a pond at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris
People cool themselves down in a pond at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris
In Germany, rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are at particular risk in high temperatures.
Authorities in the eastern state of Brandenburg, which circles Berlin, say the risk of forest fires is at the highest level in the coming days.
Scientists say measurements show that heat waves in Europe are becoming more frequent.
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said ‘monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate.’
‘This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas,’ he added.
Britain’s MetOffice said it was particularly concerned that the heatwave could trigger ‘violent storms’ and warned Britons to expect ‘hot, humid and unstable’ weather.
It issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain and thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday, saying the highest temperatures would be in excess of 86F (30C) in central and southwest England.
A German Federal Police helicopter carries water in a bucket to extinguish forest fire near Lieberoser Heide in eastern Germany
Officials in Paris have vowed to set up cool-zones for people to take a break from the heat (pictured, elderly people in an air-conditioned room in Souffelweyersheim)
A man wets his hat at a public fountain during an unusually early summer heatwave on June 24, 2019 in Rome
Spain’s AEMET weather agency issued a ‘yellow alert’ for severe weather on Sunday, but said it expected the heat to peak later in the week with temperatures soaring over 104F (40C), particularly inland.
‘Temperatures may exceed 42 degrees’ [107.6F] in the northeastern Ebro valley area from Thursday until Saturday, the agency said, indicating the heat could persist into early next week.
And after last summer’s heatwave, farmers were again fearful the high temperatures could damage crops.
‘Should we get tropical temperatures of 35 degrees (95F) or more , that would depress the crop yields,’ farmers’ spokesman Joachim Rukwied told DPA news agency, saying grain crops had received just enough rainfall last month and were going through an ‘important growing phase’.
In Belgium, the Royal Meteorological Institute also issued a severe heat warning, saying it was expecting temperatures in the range of 93F to 95F (34C to 35C) from Tuesday, with similar hot weather also expected in Switzerland.
Dutch officials issued a heat warning in seven of its 12 provinces Sunday.
They urged people, especially the young and elderly to drink plenty of water, to stay indoors and use protective clothing and sunblock.
The Dutch ‘Heat Plan’ comes into action when continuous temperatures above 80.6F (27C) are forecast.
Greece was also expected to record blistering temperatures this weekend, with forecasters warning of highs of 102F (39C) in some areas although they were seen falling earlier next week.
In the Balkans, soaring temperatures saw many people flocking to rivers, lakes and swimming pools in an effort to cool down last week, although a weekend of stormy weather helped take the edge off the heat.
This latest intense heatwave again shows the impact of global warming on the planet, and such weather conditions are likely to become more frequent, meteorologists said.