Friday 19 July 2019

European heatwave: France records its highest-ever temperature of 44.3C

  • Temperatures in some parts of Europe exceeding 40C
  • France records highest temperature since records began of 45.9C in Gallargues-le-Montueux
  • Number of people have died in heat-related incidents - including two from suspected heatstroke in Italy
  • In Ireland, sizzling 28C prompts skin cancer warning
  • Soaring heat and dry conditions spark wildfire fears
  • Pollen is also at the highest level - Irish Meteorological Service
  • Mini heatwave set to continue today with highs of between 21C and 26C
People cool off in the sea in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People cool off in the sea in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Flying leap: A diver at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin, plunges into the sea. PHOTO: ROLLINGNEWS.IE
Mini heatwave: Kate O’Doherty (1) from Kildare enjoys her first experience of the sea at Sandycove in Co Dublin. photos: Frank McGrath
Eleanor Fox, from Dublin, Miranda Fu, from Drimnagh, and Amy McDonnell, from Glasnevin, enjoying the sun. photos: Frank McGrath
Brandon Fitzgerald (12) and Aaron Houlihan (13) from Athy jump into the Grand Canal in the Co Kildare town. photos: Frank McGrath

Allison Bray and Denise Calnan

Hot Saharan winds have brought scorching weather across Europe with temperatures in some parts exceeding 40C.

France has today recorded its highest temperature since records began of 45.9C in the village of Gallargues-le-Montueux in the south.

The previous record was 44.1C, reached during the deadly heatwave of 2003.

Meteorologists have put more than half of France on alert for high temperatures, while in Germany rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and others at risk in hot conditions.

A number of people have died as a result of the hot weather, with Italian authorities reporting at least two deaths as a result of heatstroke, while a 12-year-old girl tragically drowned in the UK.

In Ireland, Met Éireann has warned that the UV index and pollen levels will both be "very high" for the coming days as temperatures soar.

Mini heatwave: Kate O’Doherty (1) from Kildare enjoys her first experience of the sea at Sandycove in Co Dublin. photos: Frank McGrath
Mini heatwave: Kate O’Doherty (1) from Kildare enjoys her first experience of the sea at Sandycove in Co Dublin. photos: Frank McGrath

The mercury climbed to a sizzling 28C at the Met Éireann weather station in Valentia, Co Kerry, yesterday and temperatures of between 21C and 26C degrees are expected over the coming days.

However, health officials have urged the public to take precautions against sunburn as the ultraviolet, or UV, index remains very high today and tomorrow.

Helicopters drop water over a forest fire during a heatwave near Bovera, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo
Helicopters drop water over a forest fire during a heatwave near Bovera, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

Pollen is also at the highest level, according to the Irish Meteorological Service.

"As temperatures climb and the dry sunny weather continues, a very high pollen risk can be expected," Met Éireann said. "Grass, weed and fungal spores are the allergens currently airborne."

Officials at the Marie Keating Foundation cancer charity warned that the risk of over-exposure to the sun can not only lead to sun damage but cancer.

The solar ultraviolet, or UV, index remains very high today which can lead to sunburn and damage to skin within a short time.

Brandon Fitzgerald (12) and Aaron Houlihan (13) from Athy jump into the Grand Canal in the Co Kildare town. photos: Frank McGrath
Brandon Fitzgerald (12) and Aaron Houlihan (13) from Athy jump into the Grand Canal in the Co Kildare town. photos: Frank McGrath

"As a nation, we love to get out when the sun shines, but it is important that we look after our skin and follow the SunSmart code," said Liz Yeates, the cancer charity's CEO.

The code includes always wearing sunscreen of factor 30 or more, as well as protective clothing, hats and sunglasses, and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm when the potential for burning is at its peak.

A woman cools off in a water fountain on June 26, 2019 at the Lustgarten in central Berli. Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
A woman cools off in a water fountain on June 26, 2019 at the Lustgarten in central Berli. Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
An elderly couple swim past a model boat at the Schwarzachtalsee lake in Ertingen, southern German. Photo by Thomas Warnack / dpa / AFP
A man sleeps on chairs in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. Photo credit DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
People cool off at a lake in Haltern am See, western Germany. Photo: INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images
A boy jumps from a diving board in to a swimming pool in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Photo by Andreas Arnold / dpa / AFP
A jaguar cools off in the pool of the Bordeaux-Pessac Zoo in Pessac, southwestern France. Photo credit: MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images
Young people cool off in a fountain in Lustgarten park. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
A woman takes a picture of the Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) as she soaks her feet in the water of a fountain. Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
Children play under water jets in a fountain as they cool off during a heatwave in Nice. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
People sunbath in front of the Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre). Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
People use an umbrella to shelter from the sun near the Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) during a heatwave in Pari. Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Image
A bear seeks relief from heat as it eats iced food at a zoo in Rome, Italy. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A bear seeks relief from heat as it eats iced food at a zoo in Rome, Italy. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A Civil Protection volunteer delivers free bottles of water to tourists in Rome. Photo: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
A bear seeks relief from heat as it eats iced food at a zoo in Rome. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A macaque seeks relief from heat as it eats iced food at a zoo in Rome, Italy. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Ring-tailed lemurs seek relief from heat as they eat iced food at a zoo in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Meanwhile, wildlife officials are urging the public to be vigilant in the face of potentially deadly wildfires due to tinder dry conditions.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) issued a warning of the high risk of wildfires breaking out.

Although a status yellow high temperature warning for six counties in the south and west expired at 7pm yesterday, the risk of fires burning out of control remained a serious concern.

Dr Barry O'Donoghue of the NPWS said: "Fires do not just happen in Ireland - they are caused deliberately or inadvertently go out of control. Aside from the potentially devastating impact of fires on public and private property and forests, blazes can have devastating impacts on habitats and species and ecosystems that may have taken decades or centuries to establish," he said.

The spate of hot weather, which is set to continue today, drew thousands of sun worshippers to beaches and parks across the country as they enjoyed a rare spell of wall to wall sunshine.

Eleanor Fox, from Dublin, Miranda Fu, from Drimnagh, and Amy McDonnell, from Glasnevin, enjoying the sun. photos: Frank McGrath
Eleanor Fox, from Dublin, Miranda Fu, from Drimnagh, and Amy McDonnell, from Glasnevin, enjoying the sun. photos: Frank McGrath

The mini heatwave is set to continue today with good sunny spells nationwide and highs of between 21C and 26C, with cooler temperatures along the south coast due to onshore breezes.

Tomorrow will remain warm with sunny spells and highs of between 20C and 25C. Scattered showers, some possibly heavy, are likely, especially along some eastern coastal counties.

Meanwhile, in Italy, at least two people have died from suspected heatstroke.

A Romanian man (72) was discovered in a park in Milan, while the body of another man was found in the country in the central Italian region of Marche, according to Il Globo.

The Italian Ministry of Health has issued a red alert for Rome, Florence, Turin, Perugia, Rieti, Brescia and Bolzano on Thursday, while Milan, Venice, Bologna, Naples, Bari, Verona, Viterbo, Latina and Frosinone will join them on Friday.

Civil security services distributed water to tourists visiting famed sites around Rome under a scorching sun.

People are being advised to drink liquids, eat lightly, take care to preserve medication properly, and use air conditioning correctly.

The Italian Red Cross has set up a 24-hour hotline that people can ring for help and advice.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said they are advising people to "remain hydrated".

"Judging by the huge temperature increase in France and parts of Germany, we are advising all people travelling to adhere to the normal precautions and remain hydrated, particularly families with young children and the elderly," he said in a statement.

"They should ensure that their accommodation is air conditioned and remember that severe sun burn can happen within only an hour so be careful not to lie in the sun for too long."

Schools in France are taking precautions by spraying children with water and nursing homes are equipping the elderly with hydration sensors as the country battles a record-setting heatwave baking much of Europe.

The French national weather service activated its highest-level heat danger alert for the first time, putting four regions around Marseille and Montpellier in southern France under special watch.

Temperatures in the area are forecast to reach up to 44C (111F).

Some schools closed because they could not ensure safe conditions.

Teachers at the Victor Hugo primary school in Colombes near Paris have abandoned suffocating classrooms and are keeping children outside all day, sprinkling them with water and organising quiet activities in the shade.

In the UK, a 12-year-old girl has drowned in a river.

Greater Manchester Police said the girl was found by underwater search teams after officers were called to the River Irwell in Bury just before 8pm on Thursday.

With the country set to see the hottest day of the year so far this weekend, police issued a warning about the dangers of cooling off in water.

Detective Inspector Andrew Naismith, of GMP's Bury district, said: "This is an incredibly tragic incident in which a young girl has lost her life, and my thoughts are with her family at this devastating time.

"We have a team of detectives working on this, but there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances at this time.

"With the warmer weather, it's tempting to go into the water to cool off, but I'd like to remind everyone of the dangers of playing near or swimming in rivers, lakes and reservoirs and would strongly urge against this."

This weekend, short hot spell will see the mercury climb across the UK, mirroring the heatwave blasting much of Europe.

According to the UK's Met Office, the temperature could reach a maximum of 34C (93.2F) in London and the east of England on Saturday.

The hottest conditions recorded in 2019 so far were at Weybourne in Norfolk on June 2, where the temperature reached 28.8C (84F).

The highest ever temperature on record for June was 35.6C (96F) in 1976.

Summing up the UK weather for Friday, Greg Dewhurst, a Met Office meteorologist said: "It's a bit of a cloudy start across some eastern parts of the country but this will soon clear and we're looking at a sunny day for much of the UK."

Mr Dewhurst said weather conditions will see an "east west split" with the highest temperatures in the west and an easterly breeze cooling the other half of the country.

Temperatures in Wales and the west country, including festival-goers at Glastonbury, could see temperatures of 30 or 31C on Friday.

In west Scotland it could reach 27 or 28C and in Northern Ireland 25C, while in Aberdeen it will be a cooler 17C and in London and down the east coast 24C.

After a humid Friday night, Mr Dewhurst said on Saturday the highest temperatures will be in the east, with a maximum of 34C possible in an area covering London and up towards Lincolnshire.

"We will see the hottest day of the year so far," said Mr Dewhurst.

He said the spike in UK temperatures was not a heatwave, which are typically considered to last three days or more.

Mr Dewhurst said the outlook for next week was a mix of sunny spells, scattered showers and lower temperatures.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said they are advising people to "remain hydrated".

"Judging by the huge temperature increase in France and parts of Germany, we are advising all people travelling to adhere to the normal precautions and remain hydrated, particularly families with young children and the elderly," he said in a statement.

"They should ensure that their accommodation is air conditioned and remember that severe sun burn can happen within only an hour so be careful not to lie in the sun for too long."

Additional reporting by PA

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