Meteorologists are predicting that temperatures in Greece will reach 44°C (111.2°F) later in the week as an unprecedented heatwave hits southern Europe.
According to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (EMY), the heatwave will hit the country on Thursday and will culminate on Sunday.
Its forecast says that on Thursday temperatures in continental Greece will reach 42°C and, in some places 43°C, while in eastern Aegean islands and the Dodecanese, the temperature would climb up to 39°C.
From Friday until Sunday, a further rise in temperature is expected. The maximum values will reach 43°C on the mainland and 44°C in areas in the interior of Thessaly and Central Greece. The top temperature for the islands is predicted at 41°C.
The heatwave will ease starting Monday when temperatures are predicted to drop by up to 5°C, with the largest drop expected in the eastern part of the country.
Southern Europe sizzles in the heatwave
Record temperatures are being set in other parts of southern Europe. Parts of Italy could see highs of 48°C in the coming days stoking fears of an increase in heat-related deaths.
The Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily could simmer at 48°C (118.4°F) in the coming days, potentially reaching “the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe,” according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
In August 2021, Sicily hit 48.8°C – the current record.
Rome, Bologna and Florence are among the 10 Italian cities currently under red alert for extreme heat. People have been advised to avoid direct sunlight in these places between 11am and 6pm.
The temperature in Italy’s capital could surpass 42°C on Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 40.5°C set in the summer 2007.
Spain’s weather service said thermometers could potentially hit 45°C southeastern areas of the Iberian Peninsula, which are also under an alert for extreme heat. The temperature of the ground in parts of the country has hit more than 60°C.
Heatwaves are “the new normal”
The extreme temperatures sweeping the globe this week are the new normal in a world warmed by climate change, the UN weather agency says.
Temperatures went over 50C (122F) in parts of the US and China on Sunday.
The World Meteorological Organisation warned the heatwave in Europe could continue into August.
Millions around the world are under heat advisories as officials warn of danger to life from the hot temperatures.
Night-time in Europe and the US is not expected to bring widespread relief as temperatures stay above 30C in places including Arizona or southern Spain.
Large areas of the world saw up close again on Monday what life is like under extreme temperatures:
Death Valley in California hit 53.9C (128F ) on Sunday. The hottest-ever temperature reliably recorded on Earth was 56.7C (134F).
China provisionally broke its record for all-time highest temperature on Sunday when it recorded 52.2C (126F) in its western Xinjiang region, according to the UK Met Office
Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves longer, more intense and more frequent.
“The extreme weather – an increasingly frequent occurrence in our warming climate – is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies,” said World Meterological Organisation MO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.
“We have to step up efforts to help society adapt to what is, unfortunately, becoming the new normal,” he added.
It underscores the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as drastically as possible.