Europe bracing for scorching heatwave

A woman is sprayed with water to cool down as temperature hit 33 deg C in Prague, Czech Republic, June 12 2019.
A woman is sprayed with water to cool down as temperature hit 33 deg C in Prague, Czech Republic, June 12 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (AFP) - Forecasters say Europeans will feel sizzling heat next week with temperatures soaring as high as 40 deg C in an "unprecedented" June heatwave hitting much of Western Europe.

From Great Britain to Belgium to Greece, a wave of hot air coming from the Maghreb in North Africa and Spain will push up temperatures starting this weekend and hitting a peak around mid-week.

Spain's meteorological agency (Aemet) has issued a "yellow alert" for severely bad weather for Sunday and says it expects the country to see a "hotter than usual" summer, like last year.

In Germany, forecasters are predicting temperatures up to 37 deg C on Tuesday and 38 deg C on Wednesday, with similar hot weather also expected in Belgium and Switzerland.

The British MetOffice said it was particularly concerned that the heatwave could trigger "violent storms" and warned Britons to expect "hot, humid and unstable" weather.

Greece will be one of the countries most affected by the heatwave with temperatures hitting 39 deg C at the weekend.

In France, meteorologist Francois Gourand said the heatwave is "unprecedented for the month of June" and will no doubt beat previous heat records.

Back in the summer of 2003, France suffered an intense heatwave that led to the deaths of nearly 15,000 mostly elderly people.

Starting on Tuesday, France will see temperatures from 35 to 40 deg C, which will remain high at night offering little respite from the heat, forecasters predicted.

"Since 1947, only the heatwave of 18 to 28 June, 2005, was as intense," said Meteo France, adding the scorching weather would probably last a minimum of six days.

This latest intense heatwave again shows the impact of global warming on the planet, and such weather conditions are likely to become more frequent, meteorologists said.