Italy heatwave could push temperatures close to European record

With scorching weather sweeping through Spain, France, Germany, and Poland, high pressure is predicted to bring temperatures to 48C.

This week, as a severe heatwave grips much of the continent, temperatures in Italy may come dangerously close to shattering a European record.

By Wednesday, temperatures will be above 40C (104F) throughout much of the country as a result of an anticyclone by the name of Cerberus. Sicily and Sardinia are expected to experience the highest temperatures, at 47–48C.

Italy is experiencing its first significant heatwave of the year, following a spring and early summer characterized by storms and flooding.

On August 11, 2021, Floridia, a town in the Sicilian province of Syracuse, had a high of 48.8C, shattering the previous record for the warmest day in European history.

The president of the Italian Meteorological Society, Prof. Luca Mercalli, stated, “We know that there will be temperatures above 40C or 45C.” “We might be able to break the record. The levels will be exceedingly high in any case.

In the middle and southern regions of Italy, the extreme heat is predicted to linger for nearly two weeks, while it will gradually abate in the north.

According to meteorologist Stefano Rossi, the decision to name the anticyclone Cerberus—the three-headed monster-dog that guards the underworld’s entrance in Greek mythology—was not random. In Dante’s Inferno, Cerberus makes an appearance to watch over the third circle of hell.

Rossi said that humidity levels would be “skyrocketing” and that overnight temperatures would not go below 22C. “Metaphorically, the three heads indicate the three main climatic zones into which Italy will be divided,” he claimed.

Additionally, France, Germany, Spain, and Poland are experiencing a heat wave.

The Red Cross has asked people to exercise particular caution and to check on those who are most susceptible to the high temperatures, such as children and the elderly, in Spain, where the second heatwave of the summer could bring temperatures of up to 44C to some southern sections of the nation.

It urges people to remember to stay hydrated, to stay away from coffee and alcohol, and to keep an eye out for the symptoms of heatstroke, which include vomiting, confusion, hot, dry skin, and fainting.

In several sections of the Iberian peninsula, temperatures on Monday might reach 38 degrees Celsius, climbing to 40 degrees Celsius in the south and 44 degrees Celsius in some portions of the Guadalquivir valley, according to Spain’s state meteorological office, Aemet.

On Tuesday, Mallorca and the Ebro valley could experience temperatures as high as 43C due to the heatwave, which is expected to linger until Wednesday.

Greece was also anticipated to experience scorching temperatures, with the Athens National Observatory predicting that by Wednesday, temperatures will average between 42 and 43 degrees Celsius. The first heatwave of the season is expected to peak on Friday, but experts warned that the hot weather might start forest fires, be extended, and be “insidious and dangerous”.

The country’s ministries of health, labour, and citizens’ safety took the unusual step of issuing emergency warnings on Monday, urging employers to make sure employees didn’t work outside between midday and 5 o’clock and recommending older and more susceptible individuals to stay hydrated, eat lightly, and stay indoors.

The City of Athens made the announcement that starting on Tuesday, special air-conditioned spaces would be available to residents, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. With around 150 watering stations set up across the city, the vast number of stray animals that live in the Greek capital will also be taken care of. In an unprecedented move, Greek scientists have named and ranked heatwaves in an effort to better inform policymakers and the affected populace of the dangers posed by the “invisible killers.”

According to research, last summer was the warmest ever recorded in Europe, and there were 61,672 heat-related fatalities. The highest death rates were seen in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

The analysis indicated that average temperatures in Europe “uninterruptedly” exceeded the baseline levels of the previous three decades for every week of summer 2022. Between July 18 and 24, when the heat was at its worst, 11,637 individuals died.

Every heatwave in the world is becoming more intense and more likely to occur due to human-caused climate change. Without global warming, last year’s heatwaves in Europe would have been practically unimaginable, according to a report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

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