HomeWorld NewsWestern Europeans wilt at start of summer heatwave, heightening climate change fears

Western Europeans wilt at start of summer heatwave, heightening climate change fears

  • Spaniards suffocate as temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius
  • Outdoor events halted in part of France, drought hits Italy
  • Same hats off allowed at high-end British horse racing event

MADRID/PARIS, June 17 (Reuters) – Spain headed for its hottest early summer temperatures in four decades on Friday, a region of France banned outdoor events and drought harassed Italian farmers as a heat wave caused Europeans to seek shade 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 overexposing yourself to the sun, stay hydrated 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.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Temperatures were expected to reach 40 to 42 degrees Celsius (104-108 Fahrenheit) in Madrid and Zaragoza, in central and eastern Spain respectively, national weather agency AEMET said. These would be levels 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. Read more

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. Read more


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. Read more

“Everyone is now facing a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.

Temperatures in many parts of France hit 40C for the first time this year on Thursday and are expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42C. A record nighttime temperature for June, 26.8°C, 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 32C 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 need to take climate change precautions as soon as possible because it’s 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 27C.

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.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Christina Thykjaer, Inti Landauro in Madrid; Farouq Suleiman in London; Tassilo Hummel in Paris; Catarina Demony in Lisbon; Angelo Amante in Rome; Written by Andrew Cawthorne and Alison Williams; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Must Read