Italy lives for these hours under suffocating temperatures that for specialists could be a total record for Europe. With 48.8 degree the thermometer exploded in the region of Sicily and now Spain and Portugal are preparing to receive the heat wave.
Powered by hot air from North Africa, the heat wave covered large parts of the Mediterranean region, contributing to huge fires and dozens of deaths in Italy, Turkey and Algeria. In Greece, for a week the giant fires that devastated forests, destroyed houses and forced evictions.
This Wednesday, Sicily registered what could be another record of temperatures in Europe, although climate experts warned that measurement has yet to be confirmed.
SIAS, the agricultural-meteorological information service for the Sicily region, reported a temperature of 48.8 degrees at the station on the island of Syracuse. The agency published on Facebook that it is the maximum temperature recorded in the entire network since it was founded in 2002.
Tourists hydrate the Villa Borghese park in Rome. Photo EFE
In 1977, the highest temperature was recorded in Europe with 48 degrees in Athens.
Sicily’s temperature has yet to be officially confirmed. The World Meteorological Organization said that will examine the readings, but Randy Cerveny, the agency’s weather record whistleblower, said it was “suspicious, so we’re not going to make a resolution right away.”
“It doesn’t sound terribly plausible,” Cerveny said, “But we’re not going to rule it out.”
Agency spokeswoman Sylvie Castonguay advised caution: “Extreme weather and weather events often fall into sensationalism and are wrongly categorized as ‘record highs’ before being thoroughly investigated and properly validated. ”
The heat wave causes fires in the region of Palermo, Italy. AFP photo
What is clear is that a high pressure system with fierce force is currently centered over the Mediterranean and can produce unprecedented heat in some places, as reported by meteorologist Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections.
Spain and Portugal, on alert
Spain and Portugal had an idea of what was heading towards them, with forecasts that temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula will begin to rise from Thursday.
The Portuguese prime minister warned that the heat exacerbates the threat of fires, which in 2017 killed more than a hundred people in his country.
Spain’s meteorological service forecast a heat wave for Monday and said temperatures will exceed 44 degrees in some areas.
Spanish regions also take action: in Catalonia (northeast Spain) camping and sports activities were prohibited until Monday in the mountains in the areas with the highest risk of fire, while in Extremadura (west) or Castilla-La Mancha (center) it was urged to avoid the use of agricultural machinery or any other type that may pose a fire hazard.
“Both the maximums and the minimums will reach values well above normal in summer” said Spain’s meteorological service, AEMET, in a special weather warning.
From there they also warned that this episode of intense heat is accompanied by African suspended dust that worsens air quality, increases the ultraviolet radiation index to “very high or extreme” levels and increases the risk of fires.