Heat Wave Spreads Across Europe Early Into Summer Season

EIt was very hot, so we sat under large umbrellas in Terraza Colon Cafe. They were all gone.

“June is one of the best months for us, so a heat wave right now is no good for business,” manager Daniel Benito, 42, said as he helped a waitress rearrange large fans and sprayed the floor with water to try and cool down the space. “It’s just impossible to plan and run a business with such extreme weather.”

The temperature in Spain’s capital neared 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) Tuesday, and the heat wave is forecast to envelop Europe in the coming days. Southern Spain could top 42 degrees Wednesday, with most of the country approaching 40 degrees, according to the country’s Aemet weather agency. High temperatures like this usually occur later in the summer. Saharan dust is also being brought up by the southern winds, which can cause problems with visibility and worsening of air quality.

A high-pressure system is hovering in the atmosphere over Europe, trapping the heat in an effect sometimes called a “heat dome.” People in Paris, Rome and London all were prepping for torrid conditions.

“The heat wave will intensify throughout the week,” said Mika Rantanen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. “It will be getting worse every day.”

The scorching weather provides another example of the impact climate change will have as countries’ reliance on burning fossil fuels makes the planet hotter. It’s the second time in less than a month that temperatures surpassed 40 degrees in Spain, an unusual heat for this time of the year, with the nation’s meteorological agency issuing dozens of warnings across the country. According to the agency, Cordoba could see temperatures of 43° Celsius.

“Every heat wave in the current climate is enhanced or boosted by climate change,” Rantanen said.

Heat could increase volatility in already volatile commodity markets. France and Germany experienced an increase in power prices as they struggled to meet the demand for electricity. European natural gas prices increased Wednesday, as the heat wave boosted cooling demand and further tightened supplies.

There’s also a risk that grain yields will be curbed even more across western Europe, particularly in France, Spain and Portugal, according to Paris-based analyst Agritel. The harvest of soft wheat is near, with fields in France, the top producer, already being threatened by one the hottest and dryest springs of the last century. This has impeded global supply at a time of tight supplies due to the war in Ukraine. Harvest is just a few more weeks away.

Parisian residents were ready for Saturday’s temperatures to reach 37 degrees Celsius, Meteo France reports.

Alan Charles Angel was stacking boxes of white air conditioners in front of the Boulanger appliance shop, replenishing stock that had been purchased the previous day.

“We put in a big order when the forecast first called for a heat wave, so we have plenty,” he said, pulling out units packed under a stairwell and then heading off to a storeroom to get more.

France has been experiencing drought in parts of the country. This could make it more difficult to withstand the heatwave and raise the possibility of wildfires.

The Meteo Giuliacci weather prediction center predicts that temperatures in Italy will reach 40 degrees Celsius within the next days. High temperatures can pose a danger to elderly or small children, as well as others who are vulnerable.

Giancarlo Penza of the Sant’Egidio community is in charge of a program that assists thousands of octogenarians across Italy, particularly in Rome.

“We are already making hundreds of phone calls every day, as we always do as soon as we receive heat wave alerts from the local authorities,” Penza said. “We don’t wait for the old people to ask for help. We call them over and over to make sure they are fine, they have enough food or medicines when it is too hot to go out.”

Britain will also experience unseasonably hot temperatures. Temperatures in the southeast likely will peak at 33 degrees Celsius on Friday, according to the UK’s Met Office.

“This is the first spell of hot weather this year, and it is still unusual for temperature to exceed these values in June,” said Dan Rudman, deputy chief meteorologist at the Met Office. “Many areas will also see some warm nights, with temperatures expected to be in the mid to high teens overnight.”

Relief may come quickly, however. On Saturday, the cold front will be moving in from north and could bring more rain and lower temperatures.

—With assistance from Flavia Rotondi, Megan Durisin and Albertina Torsoli.

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