Heat storms are taking over Europe, especially in the south, where consecutive heatwaves are expected to bring record breaking temperatures, up to 48˚C.
The overall conditions of El Niño, a meteorological event expected to cause severe temperature spikes and major weather events in the second half of 2023, combined with two anticyclones coming from North Africa are creating the conditions for heat storms.
What was expected to be a few days’ heatwave, brought on by the Cerberus anticyclone last week, is extending into this week as the Charon anticyclone comes over Europe. The conditions not only lead to scorching temperatures during the day, but do not allow for enough cooling at nighttime either, temperatures remaining high.
In Italy, 16 cities have been placed under red alert. On the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, temperatures could reach 48˚C this week, “potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe”, according to the European Space Agency, while Rome could reach 46°C.
Turists and residents alike in the most affected areas, including popular tourist destinations like Rome, Florence and Bologna, are advised to avoid direct sunlight between 11 am and 6 pm, preferably stay indoors. They are asked to remember to stay hydrated and pay particular attention to the elderly, people health problems, people who take medication, infants and children, as well as to pets.
Moreover, tourists are especially advised to avoid the Colosseum. “Going to the Colosseum when it is 43C (109.4F) is not advisable, especially for an elderly person”, Italy’s Health Minister Orazio Schillaci told Il Messaggero newspaper on Sunday.
Similarly, the Greek Ministry of Culture closed the Acropolis in Athens on Sunday, from 1 pm to 5 pm, to protect visitors. On Friday, when temperatures rose above 40˚C, tourists waiting in line to enter the ancient ruins started fainting. The high altitude of the Acropolis Hill and lack of shade, combined with sitting in the sun for prolonged periods of time, meant that many people had to be attended by medical services on site.
“It was incredible up there. But along the way we saw people passed out getting medical attention, sitting on the backs of ambulances and even vomiting from heatstroke”, a 51 year old Canadian tourist who visited the Acropolis before it closed told the BBC.
Spain is also foreseeing the heatwave will not be contained in the usual southern parts of the country but reach up to normally more temperate regions. “Even the normally mild region of Navarra in the north is seeing up to 40˚C”, CNN travel reports. On the island of La Palma, in the country’s Canaries, over 4,000 people had to be evacuated after a wildfire took over homes, Reuters reports.
Charon is pushing the heatwave up north as well. Romania has been dubbed “the red hell” this week by local media, as red alerts are issued throughout the country, with temperatures expected to reach up to 45˚C in the west and south of the country.
Serbia and Montenegro could also reach up to 40˚C, while France is expected to get to 35˚C by the end of the week. Moreover, droughts are taking over Northern Europe – around the Baltic Sea, in Germany, Ireland, the UK and Scandinavia.
Other parts of the world are also suffering from extreme temperatures, including the US, Canada, Australia, China and Japan.