Heatwave temperatures may top 45C in southern Europe

Alerts issued in Portugal and Spain as Met Office forecasts 31C for southern England

Much of southern Europe is sweltering in near record-breaking temperatures with the mercury expected to exceed 45C (113F).

A scorching 46C was forecast for Setúbal, near Lisbon, on Saturday, as emergency services in Portugal issued a red alert until Sunday and urged people to avoid picnics and outdoor activities.

The Met Office said temperatures had risen to 45.5C in Alvega in central Portugal on Saturday afternoon and were still rising.

On Friday, 16 weather stations in Portugal registered record temperatures with Alcácer do Sal, near Setúbal, climbing to 45.9C.

The hot, dry conditions have led to several wildfires in Portugal. Nearly 700 firefighters are battling the biggest outbreak, near Monchique in the Algarve region.

Portugal’s highest recorded temperature was 47.4C, in 2003.

In Spain, a high of 45C was forecast for Córdoba and heat warnings have been issued for 41 of the country’s 50 provinces.

High temperatures contributed to the deaths of two men in Spain on Friday – one in Barcelona and the other in the Murcia region, authorities said.

Spain’s record high temperature of 47.3C was set in Cordoba in July 2017.

The Met Office did not, however, expect the record European temperature of 48C, set in Athens in 1977, would be broken this weekend.

Europe heatwave temperature map

UK temperatures are expected to peak at 31C (88F) on England’s south coast this weekend, the Met Office predicted.

Gosport in Hampshire was the hottest place in the UK by mid-afternoon, reaching 29.8C.

Areas along the Hampshire and Dorset coast are most likely to feel the heat on Saturday, while the hottest areas on Sunday are expected to be around London and stretching north to the Midlands.

Cloudy conditions are expected in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with some patchy rain to the north and west of Scotland.

The north-west/south-east split will continue early next week, with further showers expected across Scotland and Northern Ireland, while England and Wales stay generally dry and warmer.

Temperatures as high as 32C (90F) are possible around London on Monday and Tuesday.

A sunny afternoon is expected in the south. #Temperatures could creep just above 30 °C somewhere on the south coast of England. Meanwhile, be ready for the odd spot of rain in the far north, given slightly cloudier skies. pic.twitter.com/am8y19H8ew

— Met Office (@metoffice) August 4, 2018

Temperatures will need to climb significantly if they are to come close to England’s current August record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in 2003.

The intense heat is likely to lessen come Wednesday, as conditions turn “fresher and more changeable”, the Met Office said.

The mercury is being driven higher by a hot air mass moving north from Africa, bringing dust from the Sahara.

In the Netherlands, authorities closed some motorway sections after the heat melted the road surface.

In France, four nuclear reactors have been closed to avoid raising the temperature of rivers whose water is used to cool reactors and then returned.


Chris Johnston

The GuardianTramp

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