Soaring temperatures broke records in France, Britain and the Netherlands on Thursday (Jul 25) as a heatwave gripped Europe for the second time in a month, in what scientists said were becoming more frequent events as the planet heats up.
As a cauldron of hot air from the Sahara desert moved across the continent, drawn northwards by high pressure, Paris recorded its highest temperature since records began and Britain reported its hottest weather for the month of July.
The unusual conditions brought a reduction in French and German nuclear power output, disrupted rail travel in parts of Britain and sent some Europeans, not habitual users of air conditioning in their homes, out to the shops in search of fans.
Health authorities issued warnings to the elderly, especially vulnerable to spikes in temperature.
“It’s very hot at the moment. I saw 42 degrees (Celsius) is forecast for today,” said 19-year-old French tourist Ombeline Massot in the capital’s Montmartre district, where visitors drank chilled bottles of water and fanned themselves.
Shortly after she spoke, the mercury touched 40.6 degrees Celsius in the capital, above the previous Paris record of 40.4 C recorded in July 1947.
In Britain, the temperature reached its highest for July, hitting 36.9 degrees Celsius, said the Met Office, the national weather service. The temperature, recorded at Heathrow, London, beat the previously July record of 36.7 degrees Celsius.
In the southern Netherlands, the temperature peaked at 40.4 degrees Celsius, topping 40 for the first time on record, Dutch meteorology institute KNMI said. That broke the national record of 39.3 degrees Celsius set the previous day. Before this week, the national heat record of 38.6 degrees had stood for 75 years.
The heat is expected to persist until Friday.