As temperatures in the UK are set to rise above 30C next week, on continental Europe forecasters are predicting what may result in a record-breaking heatwave with temperatures expected to climb into the high thirties and may reach 40C in the hottest places.
Much of Europe will see at least one day of “intense heat” over the course of the week, forecasting service AccuWeather said, with a “core of heat” focused on the areas around southern Germany, east France, Switzerland, northern Italy and Austria.
“This will set the stage for a potentially dangerous heat wave to occur over a large portion of western and central Europe,” they said.
The highest temperatures during the heatwave are expected to be in Paris, Madrid, Prague, Munich and Zurich.
While most of France will experience “abnormally high temperatures”, according to weather service Météo France, in the north, Normandy and Brittany will see persistent thunderstorms with temperatures “below normal”.
Both AccuWeather and Météo France predict Wednesday to be the hottest day, before temperatures fall somewhat by the weekend.
The cause of the heatwave is due to several elements, including a phenomenon called “polar amplification”, in which rising temperatures north of the Arctic Circle trigger unusual weather patterns which can weaken and divert the jet stream from its usual course.
Meanwhile a large area of high pressure over central Europe and a large storm over the Atlantic is expected to pull hot air from Africa north, in a weather event known as a “Saharan bubble”.
In Germany Der Spiegel reported: “It is extremely hot in Germany,” while German forecaster Dominik Jung told Bild: “Three days in a row with up to 40 degrees. And in June. That hasn’t happened before. The Saharan nozzle blows its hot air directly to us. And the sun is at its highest so temperatures can build for longer.”
He added: “I have never seen weather maps showing temperatures to this extent in my time as a certified meteorologist. I have been doing this job since 2002.”
The German government’s weather service has issued a public health guide for dealing with the “dark side” of summer, and advised against drinking alcohol during the heatwave and for people to take particular care of young children and the elderly.
Bild recommended to its readers they have a siesta during the early afternoons, and to put their pyjamas in the freezer to help keep cool at night.
Scientists have estimated the effects of climate change have made extreme heatwaves in Europe up to five times more likely to occur in some places in Europe, and twice as likely in others.
Last year a preliminary study of data collected from stations across northern Europe by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) network confirmed climate scientists’ fears that the heat has been exacerbated by global warming.
“The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Dr Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
“What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace – in some cases, it already has,” he said last year.
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