Photo credit: Nati Shohat / Flash 90
More than a thousand people have died so far in Spain and Portugal, thousands have been evacuated in the face of wildfires in France and a ‘state of emergency’ has been declared in the UK due to an extreme heat wave that swept across the continent.
In most of Europe, residential air conditioners are rare at best – unlike Israel, where most homes have air conditioning since summer temperatures are most often in the 80s and 90s.
UK hit by record heat wave
Britain hit its highest temperature on record on Tuesday, with the mercury soaring to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
In 2019, the previous record was set at 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7) Fahrenheit.
Initial figures from the UK Met office (“Met”) recorded 40.2C at London Heathrow airport at 12.50pm and at Charlwood near Gatwick airport in the south of the country. Temperatures are expected to rise further throughout the day.
The average daytime temperature in July in the UK is usually around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But on Monday evening, the UK experienced its hottest night on record, with temperatures reaching 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
In London, the city’s fire brigade declared a major incident with an increase in the number of fires in the British capital.
SCENE IN EAST LONDON DUE TO RECORD HEAT WAVE
– The_real_fly (@The_real_fly) July 19, 2022
London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the situation as “critical” and said firefighters were under “tremendous pressure”. One of the fires, in Wennington, required at least 100 firefighters to bring it under control.
Rail service was disrupted, airport runways were damaged and at zoos across the country staff resorted to popsicles for their furry charges. The runway at Luton Airport in London actually moltenseveral British media reported.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC the country has seen “a considerable amount” of travel disruption.
“The infrastructure, much of which was built from Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this kind of temperature,” he added.
The UK government has declared a national ‘state of emergency’ in response to the weather, as the UK Met office (‘Met’) has issued a ‘threat to life’ warning across the country.
The European Union facing the flames
In Portugal, temperatures reached 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit) this weekend. So far this year, wildfires in the north of the country have consumed 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land.
In Spain, meteorologists recorded land surface temperatures of 59 degrees Celsius and more than 3,200 people fled the flames in the hills of Mijas, not far from the popular tourist area of Malaga. Forest fires also broke out in the provinces of Castile and Leon, Galicia and Extremadura.
Spain’s National Meteorological Agency issued weather alerts over the weekend warning of temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit) in some areas.
In France, two wildfires have destroyed more than 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) of land so far this week; ground temperatures reached 48 degrees Celsius in the south of the country.
More than 16,000 people – residents and tourists – were evacuated. High temperatures and gusty winds on Sunday further complicated efforts to prevent the fires from spreading.
The French meteorological service predicts temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) this week.
In Italy, the government has declared a state of emergency in the Po Valley. But flames also ripped through the wooded hills of Massarosa in Luca province, forcing the evacuation of 50 people from their homes, most of them overnight Tuesday.
Eugenio Giani, president of the Tuscany region, wrote in a tweet that a “terrible” fire had broken out in Massarosa, where flames had burned at least 80 hectares of land by midday.
UN #fire terribile quello scoppiato a #Massarosa.
La nostra sala regionale è pienamente operativa in azione con 4 elicotteri, 2 canadair, decine di squadre AIB e Vigili del Fuoco da tutta la #Tuscanyla stima delle fiamme è circa al momento circa 80 ettari. pic.twitter.com/HTzmCZEYqn
— Eugenio Giani (@EugenioGiani) July 19, 2022
The TGR The news site wrote that more than 100 hectares of woods had “gone up in smoke” in the Massarosa hills.
Oltre cento ettari di bosco andati in fumo sulle hill di Massarosa. Chiusa la bretella che collega the A11 con the E80 tra Lucca e Viareggio. Al lavoro 4 Canadair, 4 elicotteri and 60 unità dei @vigilidelfuoco. Il fronte di fuoco
è alimentato dal forte vento di maestrale. @TgrRai pic.twitter.com/gcbuwbB7Hk
— Tgr Rai Toscana (@TgrRaiToscana) July 19, 2022
Forest fires have also been observed in Turkey, Croatia and Hungary.
Mediterranean nations are not spared
More than 1,300 families were evacuated on Monday July 18 and more than 6,000 hectares of forest were damaged by the fires that raged in northern Morocco.
The most affected region was the province of Larache.
The country’s National Water and Forests Agency said in a statement: “Around 20 towns have been evacuated in an effort to preserve lives and property.”
Temperatures in the country have approached 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in recent days, the Anadolou News Agency reported.
In Greece, flames raged Friday in the Attica region and throughout the Rethymno region on the island of Crete, according to Crisis24. The inhabitants were asked to evacuate their homes in the village of Orne.
In Cyprus, fires raged near the Limassol district communities of Pachna and Kyvides, Philenews reported on Monday. On Friday, a large fire broke out in Pentakomo. There have been three fires in the area in the past six weeks, Cyprus courier reported.
As Mother Nature grills Europe and the Mediterranean, she also drowns and cooks New York.
Flooding and frying in New York, New Jersey
Heavy downpours in the city turned at least two subway stations into brand-new waterfalls, affecting the third rail and forcing MTA personnel to pull out the pumps.
Breaking: Major flooding occurs in the Bronx, New York, due to heavy rain. pic.twitter.com/YPAq634HMu
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) July 18, 2022
The floods that rolled down the stairs of the 157th Street subway station in Queens were captured on video.
CASCADE: Heavy rain floods the New York subway. It’s in Queens. pic.twitter.com/6BALEZJY5n
— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) July 18, 2022
Rail service has been suspended at three upper Manhattan stations after one of the stations was flooded with up to 14 inches of water on the platform. The streets of Washington Heights were also not spared: Floodwaters reached the tops of vehicle tires around Nagle Avenue and in other areas, according to News 12.
In Brooklyn, the Jefferson Street L line station was also flooded, with water rushing onto the train platform and then onto the tracks below. Service on the Harlem and New Haven lines of the Metro North system was also affected, but by 5 p.m. service was back on track, albeit with delays.
Flooding also hit New Jersey, where water raced through the streets of Fair Lawn and other neighborhoods.
— Boyd A Loving (@boydaloving) July 18, 2022
But it’s not just floodwaters that threaten the tri-state area.
A heat advisory is also in effect in New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut, from Tuesday morning (July 19) until at least 8 p.m. Wednesday evening (July 20).
The heat advisory extends, in fact, to southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. “Hot and humid conditions are expected to continue through Thursday,” said the The National Weather Service warned.
The New York Office of Emergency Management has activated the cooling centers Tuesday for the first time this summer, with temperatures expected to reach at least 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius).
According to the National Weather Service, the heat index could climb as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) by Thursday, and temperatures are expected to stay above 90 F through the weekend and into next week. .
“The next few days will bring extreme heat across the state with dangerous heat indices of up to 100,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned.
By Wednesday, most of the state is expected to be hit with high heat and humidity, with temperatures hovering around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Areas of southern New York State are expected to experience the most dangerous heat conditions on Thursday, with heat index values currently expected to cross the 100 degree mark.
“As New Yorkers, we care for each other, so be sure to check on neighbors, especially the elderly, those with young children, and those with disabilities,” authorities urged.
People have been told to do their best to stay indoors, reduce strenuous activities, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and try to spend at least some of the time in air-conditioned areas.
According to the New York State Department of Health, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States.