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EUROPE HEATWAVE

Europe beset by scorching temperatures as Portugal fires abate

A firefighter trying to put out the flames near the village of Casais de Sao Bento in Macao, in central Portugal, 22 July 2019
A firefighter trying to put out the flames near the village of Casais de Sao Bento in Macao, in central Portugal, 22 July 2019 AFP/Patricia de Melo Moreira

The second heatwave of the 2019 summer has hit Europe, with temperatures due to soar over the coming days. The French meteorological services say the mercury may hit 41-42°C in and around Paris on Thursday, which would be the hottest since 1947 in registered weather history.

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Other cities around northern France such as Reims, Bourges, Lille and mountain-bound Clermont Ferrand in the centre, could also see record-breaking highs.

Agricultural crops in France are already suffering from that intense hot period.

The French government has warned that wine production will be down by between six to 13 percent over 2018, mainly because of the ongoing heatwave.

The government is seeking EU approval to assist them.

Europe-wide heatwave

In other parts of northern Europe, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands will also see high temperatures.

Forecasters predict in relatively cooler Britain, the high could reach more than 36.7 degrees Celsius, the record high for July set in 2015 at London Heathrow Airport.

Bad crops but also forest fires and drying river beds are some of the consequences on the environment in Germany.

Portugal fires abating

Further south in Portugal, 1,200 fire fighters have been battling huge blazes in the mountainous Castelo Branco region which broke out four days ago.

The fire services hope to have put out all the fires on Tuesday, after working through the night. However, the fire authorities said the alert remains high, with strong winds forecast.

At least 39 people have been injured in the fire. 

Irreversible climate change to blame?

One study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has said the weeks-long heatwave across northern Europe in 2018 would have been statistically impossible without climate change. 

This year, temperatures have been even hotter in France, which saw its highest ever temperature on 28 June – 46.0 degrees Celsius in Verargues in the Herault department of southern France.

While the south is expected to be spared the worst of the second heatwave, the north may not get off so lightly. 

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