The heatwave that is currently gripping Greece shot temperatures to new records on Sunday, according to measurements of the National Observatory of Athens.
Gytheio, located in the Peloponnese region, experienced an absolute maximum temperature of 46.4 degrees Celsius (115.52°F). This sets a new record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Greece since records began in 2006.
At Kranidi, also in Peloponnese the second highest temperature was recorded at 45.9 (114.62°F).
Greece heatwave is the longest in recorded history
Greece’s heatwave is set to become the longest in the country’s recorded history, according to senior official with the national weather institute.
“According to the data, we will probably go through 16-17 days of a heatwave, which has never happened before in our country,” Kostas Lagouvardos, the director of research at the National Observatory, told ERT television.
That’s as temperatures were forecast to rise above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) over the next couple of days, which could make it the hottest July weekend in half a century.
“This weekend was the hottest registered in July in the past 50 years,” said Panagiotis Giannopoulos, a meteorologist with state broadcaster ERT.
“Athens is going to have temperatures above 40 Celsius for six to seven days, through to the end of July.”
July on track to be the hottest month
The southern US is also sweltering with temperatures of 41 degrees Celcius and above over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
In Phoenix, Arizona temperatures of up to 46 degrees have been forecast and follows a record-breaking three weeks in a row of highs above 43C.
Scientists from NASA have warned that the heat is likely to get worse. Temperatures in June were already found to be the hottest on record, while July was expected to be the hottest month overall.
Scientists from the space agency previously saw a spike in temperatures like this in July and August of 2016 due to a super El Nino event. The current El Nino event has according to NASA, only just emerged.
El Nino is associated with the warming of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
Authorities have been warning people to stay out of the sun during the hottest periods of the day and to remain hydrated.
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.