With the River Seine off limits to bathing, scorched Parisians took refuge in the city’s fountains
Spain, France and other western European nations on Saturday sweltered under a blistering June heatwave that has sparked forest fires and concerns that such early summer blasts of hot weather will now become the norm.
The weather on Saturday was the peak of a June heatwave that is in line with scientists’ predictions that such phenomena will now strike earlier in the year thanks to global warming.
Queues of hundreds of people and traffic jams formed outside aquatic leisure parks in France, with people seeing water as the only refuge from the devastating heat.
Temperatures in France could reach as high as 42 degrees C in some areas on Saturday, Meteo France said, adding that June records had already been beaten in 11 areas on Friday.
With “many monthly or even all-time temperature records likely to be beaten in several regions,” he called the weather a “marker of climate change”.
In a major incident in France, a fire triggered by the firing of an artillery shell in military training in the Var region of southern France was burning some 200 hectares (495 acres) of vegetation, local authorities said.
The fire came from the Canjeurs military camp, the biggest such training site in Western Europe. Fire services’ work was impeded by the presence of non-exploded munitions in the deserted area but four Canadair plans have been deployed to water bomb the fires.
Forest fires in Spain on Saturday had burned nearly 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land in the north-west Sierra de la Culebra region.
Some residents were able to return on Saturday morning, but regional authorities warned the fire “remains active”.
Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast in parts of the country on Saturday — with highs of 43 degrees C expected in the north-eastern city of Zaragoza.
– Foretaste of future –
The UK recorded its hottest day of the year on Friday, with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees C in the early afternoon, meteorologists said.
Several towns in northern Italy have announced water rationing and the Lombardy region may declare a state of emergency as a record drought threatens harvests.
With temperatures far above the cows’ “ideal climate” of 22-24 degrees C, animals were drinking up to 140 litres of water per day, double their normal intake, and producing less due to stress, it said.
“As a result of climate change, heatwaves are starting earlier,” said Clare Nullis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.
Originally published as Europe swelters in record-breaking June heatwave