BERLIN — A blanket of warm air stretching from the Mediterranean to the North Sea is bringing much of Western Europe its first heat wave of the summer, with temperatures Friday topping 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) from London to Paris.
Meteorologists say the unusually early heat wave is a sign of what is to come as global warming continues, pushing up the timeline to temperatures that Europe would previously have only experienced in July and August.
“In parts of Spain and France, temperatures are more than 10 degrees higher – it’s huge – than average for this time of year,” said Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the Organization. world weather forecast in Geneva.
In France, some 18 million people were awakened on Friday by heat wave alerts affecting around a third of the country. Forest fire warnings have been issued from the Pyrenees south to the Paris region.
Tourists dipped their feet in the fountains near the Eiffel Tower or sought relief in the Mediterranean.
France has put in place numerous measures to deal with extreme summer temperatures following a deadly heat wave in 2003 that killed around 15,000 people.
On Friday, schoolchildren were allowed to skip class in the 12 regions of western and southwestern France that were under the highest alert. The government has stepped up efforts to ensure care home residents and other vulnerable populations can stay hydrated.
Temperatures in France have been rising all week and topped 39 C (102.2 F) in the southwest on Friday. Nighttime temperatures are also unusually high and the heat is spreading to normally cooler parts of Brittany and Normandy on the Atlantic coast.
Matthieu Sorel, a climatologist with the national weather service Météo France, told public broadcaster France-Info that temperatures are expected to break several records. He called the long spell of unusually early warm weather a “marker of climate change”.
Britain recorded its hottest day of the year so far, with the temperature hitting 32.4C (90 degrees Fahrenheit) at Heathrow Airport near London just after midday.
The heatwave prompted organizers of the Royal Ascot horse-racing event to relax their reputedly strict dress code, with men allowed to remove their jackets and ties once the traditional carriage procession of royals is over.
In the Dutch capital Amsterdam, people boarded trains for the nearest North Sea beach early Friday afternoon while others took boats and stand-up paddle boards on one of the city’s historic canals.
In Germany, where firefighters were battling several wildfires, including one south of the capital Berlin, the national weather service predicted the big sweat would continue over the weekend as the heat moved eastward. Central and Eastern Europe. It follows an unusually dry spring in Western Europe, with authorities ordering water rationing in northern Italy and parts of France and Germany.
Experts say climate change is already affecting rainfall patterns and evaporation rates across the region, with implications for agriculture, industry and wildlife.
“Heat waves are starting earlier,” said Nullis, from the UN weather agency. “They are becoming more frequent and more severe because of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are at record highs. What we are witnessing today is unfortunately a taste of the future.”
She noted that extreme temperatures have hit other parts of the globe in recent weeks. Nearly a third of Americans were on some form of heat advisory this week. During months of scorching temperatures, India and Pakistan saw the mercury exceed 50 C (122 F) in some places.
The current heat wave in Europe began almost a week ago in Spain, where temperatures reached 43°C (109.4°F). Spanish authorities hope the weather will start to cool again on Sunday.
Intense temperatures and a lack of rain have helped fuel wildfires across Spain, taxing firefighting capacity.
The heat was also felt at a meeting in Madrid, where experts and policy makers gathered to discuss ways to combat drought and the growing spread of deserts across the world.