Heatwave: Western Europeans wither early in the summer, which reinforces fears of climate change

It was so hot that England’s exclusive Royal Ascot Racecourse even saw a rare change of protocol: guests were allowed to throw on hats and jackets once the royals had passed.

“Avoid overexposing to the sun, hydrate and take care of the most vulnerable so that they do not suffer from heat stroke,” was the advice of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during an event, fittingly, about desertification.

Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, the national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen so early in the year since 1981.

Northern Italian regions risk losing up to half of their agricultural production due to drought, said a farm lobby, as lakes and rivers begin to flow dangerously low, endangering irrigation.

The Federation of Italian Energy Companies, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, leaving many parts of the vast northern waterway completely dry.

The heat wave increased the pressure on energy systems as the demand for air conditioners risks increasing prices, which increases the challenge of building up stocks to protect against further cuts in Russia’s gas supply.

‘Health risk’

In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux banned public events including concerts and those in indoor arenas without air conditioning, a local official said.

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

Temperatures in many areas of France reached 40 Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and were expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42 Celsius. A record night temperature for June, 26.8 Celsius, was recorded in Tarascon, southern France.

Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren asked to stay at home in these areas. Speed ​​limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and the build-up of harmful smog.

The UK weather service said Friday was the warmest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius in some parts of the southeast.

A crowded beach in Bournemouth on June 17 when the UK was hit by high temperatures.

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 concerned.

“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining … and I’m cooking here, so something needs to change. We need to take precautions regarding climate change sooner rather than later because it’s undoubtedly worrying for all of us,” said student Charlie Uksel, visiting in Brighton, south of London.

“Now we enjoy it, but in the long run we can sacrifice ourselves.”

Mediterranean nations are increasingly concerned about how climate change may affect their economies and lives.

“The Iberian Peninsula is an increasingly arid area and our rivers are flowing slower and slower,” added Spanish leader Sanchez.

Firefighters battled forest fires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border of Portugal hardest hit.

Race-goers cool off in the heat during Royal Ascot 2022 when a heat wave hits Western Europe.

In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares were reduced to ashes.

The cloud of warm air spared Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European nations, with Lisbon likely to reach 27 Celsius.

But last month was the warmest May in 92 years, Portugal’s weather agency IPMA said. It warned that most of the territory was suffering from a severe drought.

Portugal’s reservoirs have low water levels, with the Bravura dam of those most affected at only 15% full.