Europe is at the mercy of wildfires and heatwaves as its death rate mounts. Wildfires and heatwaves are putting Europe at risk. The death toll is rising as many towns and cities in France record their highest-ever temperatures.
Over 2,000 firefighters continue to battle massive fires in the south-west and a searing heatwave sweeping much of Western Europe. Brest, in Brittany, hit 39.9C on Monday, more than four degrees higher than its previous high of 35.1C from 2002. Nantes, close to the Atlantic coast, registered 42C on Monday, surpassing the previous high of 40.3C set in 1949.
Records for nighttime temperatures were also broken with 32.8C being recorded at 3am on Tuesday at La Hague, Normandy. From Landes in the south to Finistère in the north, according to officials, the whole French west coast was impacted.
On Tuesday, meteorologists predicted that records would be broken once more. This is as the mass of hot air—the second to cover a sizable portion of the continent in recent weeks—moved north and east into eastern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Temperatures could reach 38 °C on Tuesday, according to the Dutch KNMI meteorological agency. They issued a code-orange extreme weather warning of a risk to life in the country’s center and south. However, officials in Belgium issued a warning of temperatures of 40 °C or higher.
Wildfires in France, Spain and Portugal continued to devour bone-dry woodland and heathland. The European Commission reported that there were drought warnings in force for 46% of the region, with 11% at alert level.
Europe is at the mercy of wildfires and heatwaves as its death rate mounts.
The deadliest of the flames were in the Gironde department near Bordeaux in southwest France. Firefighters in that region were battling to put out three fires. Two of which had been burning for a week at La Teste-de-Buch and Landiras. The other one that started on Monday night at Vensac.
Officials stated on Tuesday that the night had been “very tough.” This is because the firefighting efforts are being hampered by a changing, gusty wind. A total of 37,000 people have been evacuated from the area. Also,19,000 hectares of primarily pine forest have been burned.
No fatalities have been reported thus far in France. However, in Spain, a 69-year-old shepherd perished in a fire that was raging in the northwest province of Zamora after a firefighter perished in the same region on Sunday.
A 50-year-old office worker was reported to have passed away in Madrid from heatstroke later that day. More than 510 deaths attributed to heat have been recorded by the nation’s Carlos III Health Institute.
In Portugal, 1,000 firefighters were combating 10 wildfires in the north, while Spanish officials reported about 20 wildfires still burning from the south to Galicia in the extreme north-west, where blazes have devastated approximately 4,500 hectares of land.
The number of people killed in the fires in Portugal increased to four on Monday as a result of a car careening off the road while attempting to flee a fire zone close to Vila Real in the north, according to officials. In addition, 60 people have been hurt as a result of the country’s more than one-week-long fire season.
UK breaks its record for the highest temperature.
In the midst of a heat wave that has gripped much of Europe, Britain set a record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Tuesday. The national weather forecaster said it would only become hotter in a nation unprepared for such extremes.
The usually temperate country was the most recent to be devastated by the exceptionally hot and dry weather that has engulfed the continent since last week, sparking wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and resulting in hundreds of heat-related fatalities.
Concerns about climate change have been heightened by images of flames racing toward a French beach and British people overheating even by the sea.
At Heathrow Airport, the U.K. Met Office recorded a preliminary reading of 40.2 degrees Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit), beating the previous record set only an hour earlier. Before Tuesday, a record-breaking 38.7 C (101.7 F) was the highest temperature ever recorded in Britain.
The nation watched the temperature increase with a mix of interest and terror. The record could rise even farther given the extended period of bright sunshine that lies ahead.