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Major Heatwave Breaks Records Over Northern and Western Europe

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Unprecedented heatwaves across Western and Northern Europe are making history. Or are they? Perhaps this is just the start.

Expats in the Netherlands often repeat the saying “I love summer in the Netherlands. It is my favorite day of the year”. However, in the last few years this slightly sarcastic joke has started to become somewhat irrelevant.

A very clear example is the heatwave, which is currently baking the entire Northern and Western parts of the continent. The region has never experienced such temperatures in June. The temperatures yesterday and today are on average 20 to 30 degrees (11 to 17 degrees Celsius) higher than normal. This is also the outlook for the coming few days. At places the actual measured temperatures hit 95 to 105 degrees (35 to 40 degrees Celsius), and these can be higher in cities with “heat islands”.

Record breaking June temperatures are expected in France, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland. At some places, it is also foreseen that all-time records might be broken too, even though they were set in July and August.

The cause of the heatwaves are two high pressure systems. One of them was formed over Greenland and the other one over Northern Europe. These days, the systems are joining forces blocking the low pressure systems, and keeping them offshore. The high heat comes from Spain and the Sahara desert, and it is locked over Northern and Western Europe.

I do see quite a number of people being very happy about this. They consider it a great opportunity for late night outdoor parties and visits to the beach, pools and parks.

Unfortunately, it is not this simple. Such heatwaves can be silent killers. Elderly, people with respiratory and heart problems and those without homes, are particularly at risk. Governments continue to issue warnings and advice to stay indoors, drink more water, eat fresh food. The fatalities and emergency calls, however, continue to increase.

In addition, the drought at this time of the year threatens the agricultural production, and increases the chances of wild fires. Severe thunderstorms are also expected, causing additional damage to the precious crops.

Looking at the forecast, things are not about to change much. The extreme temperatures will only be observed over the course of these few days, however, Europeans should prepare for quite a hot month ahead.

But what does this mean? To me the answer seems quite obvious. We are somewhat failing to tackle the damaging aspects of global warming. The efforts are nowhere near great enough. Policies and drastic measures are not being imposed fast enough. And of course, the majority of the people are being ignorant and still fail to take responsibility for their actions.

We can still do something about it. OK, perhaps there is not much we can do about this heatwave besides find the best and least damaging way to deal with it.

But looking at the big picture. Let’s focus on sustainability, mindful living, recycling, using of clean transportation, and all those tips that are continuously give to us. Every little helps. Remember this!

Image (c)  Weatherbell.com

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Chimel,
    Indeed, you’re right! Overuse of air-conditioning is not doing anyone any favors. Here in the Netherlands, where I am, the humidity makes it worse. There are so many insects that I have not seen before (or at least not in such numbers).
    Recently, the government introduced “environmental zones” in many cities, where old diesel cars, and cars/vehicles without proper filters, are not allowed to enter. It helps against pollution in city centers, I have to admit, so we did not have this additional worry here.
    Let’s hope such measures spread everywhere.

  2. I’d say let’s focus also on better insulation, using heat pumps instead of regular air conditioning, planting more trees, etc. 35°C here in Toulouse, France under cover, but 48°C on the patio: That’s half way between ice and boiling water! And it was very windy. Must have been some record. The mist atomizer was great outdoors though, I did not even break a sweat staying 20 minutes right under the Sun and drinking hot coffee, and I am usually very sweaty.
    Tomorrow and the next days should be even worse, and no wind on top, so I expect some air pollution over the city too. Still no A/C or fans here, this terraced house faces north.

    The worst for me is not the heat, but the tiger mosquitoes. It’s an invasion and they come in despite the mosquito nets at the door and windows. They don’t just sting in one place and leave, they like to hover around and so it’s your whole arm or leg that is irritated for a good 30 minutes. Anywhere they can see naked skin, or even if you wear light fabric, they can go through and sting. No such mosquitoes before climate change. At least the European ones bite mostly at night and you can hear them…

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