France’s hottest day on record as Europe heat wave kills two

  • >> Raphael Minder and Megan Specia, The New York Times
    Published: 2019-06-28 21:47:09 BdST

A woman cools off in a water fountain in Marseille as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 28, 2019. Reuters

A heat wave that stretched across Europe this week, bringing a record high temperature of more than 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius in France, has set off wildfires and led to the deaths of at least two people.

Temperatures reached new highs in Spain as well, and elsewhere in France on Friday, soaring well above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 degrees Celsius, in some areas, although the heat eased in Central and Eastern Europe. Meteorologists said temperatures were expected to drop across the continent in coming days.

Spain’s official weather agency placed seven provinces under the highest heat alert level on Friday. Such a “red alert” had been issued only once before in June, in 2015.

At least two deaths have been attributed to the weather this week, Spanish officials said: a 17-year-old farm labourer in Córdoba and an 80-year-old in Valladolid.

While experts have yet to draw a firm connection between this relatively early — and extreme — heat wave and global warming, it fits a clear overall trend. As greenhouse gas emissions lead to a rise in global temperatures, heat waves around the world are occurring more often, and they are hotter and last longer.

Hundreds of firefighters were struggling Friday to control a wildfire in Catalonia, Spain’s northeastern region, after extreme temperatures caused mismanaged manure on a farm to ignite, officials said.

By midday, the fire had burned more than 16,000 acres. Nearby villages were evacuated, the Spanish defence ministry deployed aerial and land reinforcements.

France remained on high alert, as temperatures reached a record 44.3 degrees Celsius (111.7 Fahrenheit) on Friday in the southern town of Carpentras, surpassing a record set in 2003. But that record was broken a short time later when the nearby village of Villevieille reported a temperature of 45.1 Celsius, or 113.2 Fahrenheit.

France’s scorching temperatures could play a role in Friday’s highly anticipated Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match between the United States and France in Paris, though a 9pm kickoff time is expected to moderate the worst of the conditions.

In Germany, authorities warned on Friday that drinking water reserves were running dangerously low after days of high temperatures. In the country’s west and southwest, authorities asked residents to refrain from washing cars, watering lawns and filling swimming pools.

© 2019 New York Times News Service