Extreme heat was forecast around the world on Wednesday, while forest fires and health warnings were put in place in parts of Asia, Europe and North America.
Firefighters battled fires in parts of Greece and the Canary Islands while Spain issued heat alerts and some children in Italy’s Sardinia were told to stay away from sports.
From California to China, authorities are warning of the health risks brought by scorching temperatures, urging people to drink water and stay out of the sun.
“You’re not on the streets, it’s terrible,” said Lidia Rodriguez, 27, of Madrid.
Temperature records have fallen around the world, with new heat streaks set in China and the United States, and new highs in France.
Beijing broke a 23-year-old record with 27 consecutive days of temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), forecasters said.
Phoenix broke a similar record, in place for 49 years, with a 19th consecutive day of temperatures of 43.3 Celsius or higher, weather officials said.
In southern France, a record 29.5C was recorded at the Alpine ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, while 40.6C was recorded for the first time in Verdun at the foot of the Pyrenees.
In a stark reminder of the effects of global warming, the UN’s World Meteorological Agency (WMO) said the trend showed “no signs of abating”.
“These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world must prepare for more intense heatwaves,” John Nairn, a senior extreme heat adviser at the WMO told reporters in Geneva.
Heatwave on the horizon
Northwest of the Greek capital Athens, columns of smoke rose from the Dervenohoria forest, where one of the many fires around the capital and beyond is still burning.
Fire spokesman Yannis Artopios called it “a difficult day”, with another heatwave on the horizon for Thursday, with temperatures expected to reach 44C.
A forest fire in the seaside resort of Loutraki, where the mayor said 1,200 children were evacuated on Monday from holiday camps, is still burning.
In the Canary Islands, about 400 firefighters are battling a fire that has destroyed 3,500 hectares of forest and forced 4,000 residents to evacuate, with authorities warning residents to wear face masks in except due to poor air quality.
Temperatures are unforgiving in Italy and Spain, where three regions have been placed under hot weather red alerts.
The Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily are predicted to possibly surpass the continent-wide record of 48.8C recorded in Sicily in August 2021.
In Lanusei, near Sardinia’s east coast, a children’s summer camp restricted early morning visits to the beach and banned games, teacher Morgana Cucca told AFP.
In the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, pharmacist Teresa Angioni said patients were complaining of heat-related symptoms.
“They mainly buy magnesium and potassium supplements and ask us to measure their blood pressure, which is usually low,” Angioni said.
Many across Italy sought escape to the sea, including outside Rome, where the midday heat hit 40C.
“It’s definitely better on the beach, at least you get a little breeze from the sea. It’s not even possible to stay in the city, it’s too hot,” said Virginia Cesario, 30, on the beach in Focene near the capital.
Impact of climate change
Tens of millions of Americans experienced dangerous levels of heat on Tuesday.
In the city of San Angelo, Texas, where temperatures are expected to reach 104-108F (40-42C), the National Weather Service said it had “run out of ways to say it’s going to be hot out there today.”
“With temperatures across the area likely to top the 105 mark again, we’re asking you to continue to practice heat safety and try to stay cool,” the agency said on Twitter.
And in Arizona, the mercury at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport again reached 110F on Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 18 consecutive days at or above that temperature, set in 1974.
The heat waves across Europe and the world “are not one event but many are moving at the same time”, said Robert Vautard, director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace climate institute in France.
“But they are all reinforced by one factor: climate change.”
The record-setting heat came as US climate envoy John Kerry met with Chinese officials in Beijing, with the world’s two biggest polluters reviving stalled diplomacy to reduce planet-warming. emissions.
Speaking Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Kerry called for “global leadership” on climate issues.
© 2023 AFP
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