Spain experiences its hottest temperatures at the start of summer, a region of France has banned outdoor events and drought has plagued Italian farmers as a heatwave has prompted Europeans to seek l shadow and worry about climate change.
Such was the heat that Britain’s upscale Royal Ascot racecourse even saw a rare change in protocol: Guests were allowed to discard hats and jackets once the royals had passed.
“Avoid too much exposure to the sun, hydrate and take care of the most fragile so that they do not suffer from heat stroke”, was the advice of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during an event, precisely, on the desertification.
Temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen this early in the year since 1981.
Regions in northern Italy risk losing up to half of their agricultural production due to drought, a farming lobby has said, as lakes and rivers begin to drop dangerously low, jeopardizing the irrigation.
Italy’s utility federation, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, leaving many sections of the vast northern waterway completely dry.
The heat wave has weighed on energy systems as demand for air conditioning is likely to drive up prices, making it difficult to build up inventories to protect against any further cuts in Russian gas supplies.
In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux has banned public events, including concerts and those in indoor halls without air conditioning, a local official said.
“Everyone is now facing a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.
Temperatures in many parts of France reached 40 degrees Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and are expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42 degrees Celsius. A record nighttime temperature for June, 26.8 degrees Celsius, was recorded in Tarascon, southern France.
Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren being asked to stay at home in these areas. Speed limits have been lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and the buildup of harmful smog.
The UK Met Service said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius in parts of the south-east.
Parks, pools and beaches were packed, and while many enjoyed a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions, some were also worried.
“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining… and I’m boiling here, so something has to change. We must take precautions against climate change as soon as possible because it is undoubtedly worrying for all of us, ”said student Charlie Uksel, visiting Brighton, south London.
“Now we’re enjoying it, but in the long run we might make some sacrifices.”
Mediterranean nations are increasingly concerned about how climate change may affect their economies and their lives.
“The Iberian Peninsula is an increasingly dry area and the flow of our rivers is increasingly slow,” added Spanish leader Sanchez.
Firefighters were battling wildfires in several regions of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal being the worst affected.
In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares turned into ashes.
The hot air cloud spared Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European countries, with Lisbon reaching 27 degrees Celsius.
However, last month was the hottest May in 92 years, Portuguese weather agency IPMA said. He warned that most of the territory was suffering from severe drought.
Reservoirs in Portugal have low water levels, with the Bravura dam being the most affected at just 15% full.