Europe set to hit its hottest temperature EVER in 48C double heatwaves

Cerberus’s inferno: Europe is set to hit its hottest temperature EVER within days as 48C double heatwaves that are named after mythological guardians of Hell leave continent boiling in sweat

  • British tourists across the Mediterranean are being warned of deadly temperatures reaching highs of 48.8C
  • Now, Italian meteorologists are warning the continent may be hit by another brutal heatwave next week

Parts of Europe could be hit by their hottest ever temperatures next week after meteorologists issued a dire warning that the blistering heat could reaching 48C – threatening people, livestock and crops.

The continent is already in the grip of a sweltering heatwave ‘Cerberus’ – named after the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades (hell) in Greek mythology – which has pushed the mercury into the high 40s after a weather system from the Sahara moved into southern Europe.

The anticyclone, which has pushed north in recent days, has caused life-threatening wildfires in Croatia, while tourists and locals trapped in the boiling temperatures have struggled to cope as the mercury gets set to rise above 45C in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey by the end of next week.

Rescue workers had to transport tourists from the Acropolis citadel in Athens to ambulances on Thursday as temperatures soared. It follows reports of the death of a 44-year-old street painter in Lodi, Italy and the tragic drowning of two children in Manfredonia on Tuesday, both believed to be seeking relief from the heat.

Ominously, experts are saying the next torturous bout of extreme heat, which will be named ‘Charon’ – after the boatman who carries the souls of the dead to Hades in Greek mythology – is set to come only days later and this time records could be broken.

The hellish conditions brought by Cerberus and Charon are perhaps fitting as, aside from their roles in Greek mythology, the phenomena’s namesakes were both described in Inferno, the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy which depicts a journey through the nine circles of hell.

Land temperatures – how hot the ground is to touch – in Spain reached upwards of 60C in parts of southern Spain on Thursday, with the European Space Agency warning next week could break continental records.

Forecasters are warning the all-time temperature record of 48.8C, which was set in Italy in August 2021, could be threatened with the mercury set to reach those heights once again on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. 

‘Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave with temperatures expected to climb to 48 Celsius on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe,’ it said. 

Meanwhile in Britain, temperatures are expected to cool through to the weekend. Cerberus is not expected to have any effect on the UK, and the Met Office does not anticipate a heatwave will reach the UK this summer.

Residents and tourists run from a wildfire in Grebastica, Croatia, on Thursday as sweltering temperatures turn the region into a tinderbox

Volunteers try to put out a wildfire in Grebastica, Croatia, yesterday as the ‘Cerberus’ heatwave continues to boil large parts of Europe

This weather chart shows the large anticyclone that has pushed north from the Sahara into southern Europe, bringing near-record temperatures with it

A firefighter escorts a woman away from a wildfire in Croatia on Thursday, after evacuation orders were issued for a number of areas

A man uses a hose to spray water on ground that had been burned by a wildfire in Grebastica, Croatia, on Thursday

Tourists try to cool off by getting water from a fountain at the Vatican in Rome on Thursday, as the Italian capital is gripped by a heatwave

People flock to the beach in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday in a bid to cool off as the area of high pressure brings sweltering temperatures

Tourists try to cool off as they walk past water being sprayed out by a muster during the heatwave in Athens on Thursday

Land surface temperatures – how hot the ground is – reached excesses of 60C on Thursday in parts of Andalucia and western Spain

Rescue workers transport a visitor from the archaeological site of Acropolis to an ambulance on July 13, 2023, as Greece hits high temperatures

Cerberus – named after Hades’ three-headed dog in Greek mythology – will see temperatures rise to above 45C in Spain , Italy , Greece and Turkey by the end of next week 

Greece’s national weather service EMY on July 10, 2023, said a six-day heatwave would grip Greece starting July 12

Tourists come Acrop-per in the heat as Hellenic Red Cross workers distribute bottles of water to visitors in Athens on July 13, 2023

A man tries to protect himself from the hot sun amid high temperatures in Athens, Greece, 13 July 2023. Extremely high temperatures with a potentially serious impact on health are forecast in the Greek capital, Athens, and the cities of Thessaloniki and Larissa over the next few days

Health ministry officials have issued red alert warnings for ten major cities in Italy, including Florence and Rome. A red alert warning means that the heat is so intense that it poses a health risk to the whole population – not just vulnerable groups like the elderly and very young children.

‘Heat is a silent killer. So this is the main concern that people’s lives are at risk,’ said climate scientist Hannah Cloke, a professor at England’s Reading University.

‘Certainly, we should immediately stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,’ Cloke added, warning that some changes to the climate were already locked in.

On Tuesday, the unrelenting heatwave – set to last for two weeks – claimed its first life after a 44-year-old road sign worker collapsed due to the heat in the Italian city of Lodi, southeast Milan, as temperatures soared to above 40C. The man, who has not been named, later died in hospital. 

READ MORE: When is the next heatwave expected to hit the UK?

‘We are facing an unbearable heatwave,’ Italian politician Nicola Fratoianni said. ‘Dying from the heat is unthinkable – we should be taking measures to avoid tragedies like this in the hottest hours of the day.’ 

Italian authorities have now urged people not to drink alcohol or travel unnecessarily to reduce risk.

British tourists have been struggling with the unrelenting heat this week, with some holidaymakers fainting in Rome as temperatures soared above 40C. 

And the unforgiving heat is set to intensify in the coming days. In the northeastern Spanish city of Zaragoza, temperatures will soar to 46C on Tuesday. 

In Greece and Turkey – popular tourist hotspots for Britons – temperatures are set to rise to a sweltering 45C tomorrow and are unlikely to drop below 40C in many areas for the next week. 

Greece’s national weather service EMY on July 10 said a six-day heatwave would grip Greece starting July 12. 

Temperatures are also expected to reach 42C on Saturday in Cyprus.

But Italy is bearing the brunt of the heatwave, with Sicily and Sardinia set to see 48.8C temperatures, according to the BBC. In Rome, temperatures are set to soar to 41C next week.

A group of people and children play and cool off in the public fountains of Madrid Rio Park on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain

People cool off in the Barcaccia fountain in Rome, Italy, amid a sweltering heat wave on Wednesday

People sit on the Baby plage on the bank of the Geneva lake, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 11 July 

A cyclist cools himself at a fountain in central Athens, Greece, on Wednesday 

Pictured: A heat map showing soaring temperatures in Europe for Friday 14 July 

Carlo Cacciamani, head of Italy’s national meteorological and climatology agency, said the unusually hot weather hitting the country is because the Cerberus anticyclone has pushed out a colder weather system from the Azores which usually influences summer weather in Italy. 

‘This is happening more frequently and means we see temperatures around 40C instead of the normal 30-31C,’ Cacciamani told The Times. 

In Greece, authorities banned access to nature reserves and forests to reduce the risk of wildfires, while municipalities were opening air-conditioned areas in public buildings for people to shelter from the heat.

Sun shades will also be installed in Athens at the Acropolis amid reports of tourists fainting at the popular World Heritage Site. 

The Red Cross will also be on site handing out free water to visitors after crowds sweltered in the heat as they queued up to visit the Parthenon, part of the ancient citadel known as the Acropolis.

Union representatives for staff working at the site have argued they should be paid more for working in the sweltering conditions, as Greece’s culture minister, Linda Mendoni, vowed to introduce special precautionary measures to protect tourists. 

Tourists brought hats and umbrellas as they entered the ancient Acropolis in Athens today after the Greek government has announced emergency measures over the heat wave this week

A woman cools off in the public fountains of Madrid Rio Park on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain

Scientists have relentlessly warned of the damaging effects of climate change. As well as withering crops, melting glaciers and raising the risk of wildfires, higher-than-normal temperatures also cause health problems ranging from heatstroke and dehydration to cardiovascular stress.

Why is the Cerberus anticyclone causing temperatures to soar in Europe? 

An anticyclone named Cerberus is causing temperatures to exceed 40C across much of the Mediterranean this week.

The anticyclone – a high pressure weather system – began in the Sahara desert before expanding into Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. 

Cerberus then expanded northwards towards southern Europe where it is bringing sweltering temperatures.

‘How many more summers will we have to go through before we begin to convince ourselves of the fact that the rise in temperatures may not be a sporadic extraordinary event at all, but rather an irreversible process that has in fact already begun,’ Italian immunologist Mauro Minelli told the Leggo newspaper. 

The Red Cross has urged people to check on the most vulnerable during the high temperatures, such as children and older people. 

It also called on people to stay hydrated and to watch for signs of heatstroke, which can include vomiting and fainting.

Meanwhile, Greece’s agriculture ministry issued restrictions on the transportation and working hours of animals such as horses and donkeys offering rides in tourist areas during the heat wave. 

Working animals won’t be allowed to work between noon and 5pm on days where temperatures are between 35-39C in the shade, while they won’t be allowed to work at any time of the day when temperatures exceed that range.

Scientists have said climate change combined with the emergence this year of the El Nino weather pattern, which warms the surface waters in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, have fuelled record-breaking temperatures. 

‘The world just had the hottest week on record, according to preliminary data,’ the WMO said in a statement, after climate change and the early stages of the El Nino weather pattern drove the warmest June on record. 

This year has already seen a drought in Spain and fierce heatwaves in China as well the United States.

Other tourists on the Acropopolis in Athens made sure to stay hydrates during the heat wave

A tourist takes a selfie as a couple sit under an umbrella in front of the five century BC Erechteion temple at the Acropolis hill during a heat wave, in Athens, Greece, today

Temperatures are breaking records both on land and in the oceans, with ‘potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment’, the WMO said.

‘We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Nino develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024,’ said Christopher Hewitt, WMO Director of Climate Services. ‘This is worrying news for the planet.’

El Nino is a naturally occurring pattern that drives increased heat worldwide, as well as drought in some parts of the world and heavy rains elsewhere. 

Europe is fastest warming continent on planet, experts say

Europe’s climate monitoring service Copernicus has revealed that last week was likely to be the hottest since records began in 1940. 

And scientists at Copernicus have warned that Europe has been warming twice as much as the global average since the 1980s, with far-reaching impacts on the continent’s ecosystems and socio-economic fabric. 

Last summer was marked by extreme heat, drought and wildfires across Europe – and the rate at which glaciers melted was ‘unprecedented’, Copernicus said in its report. 

European countries – including Britain, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain – saw their warmest summer on record last year.  

And worryingly Europe was around 2.3C above the pre-industrial average used as a baseline for the Paris Agreement on climate change last year.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said ‘the situation we are witnessing now is the demonstration that climate change is out of control’.

Research published on Monday found that more than 61,000 people died due to the heat during Europe’s record-breaking summer last year.

The majority of deaths were in people over the age of 80 and about 63 percent of those who died due to the heat were women, according to the research published in the journal Nature Medicine.

The world has warmed an average of nearly 1.2C since the mid-1800s, unleashing extreme weather including more intense heatwaves, more severe droughts and storms made fiercer by rising seas.

Oceans absorb most of the heat generated by planet-warming gases, causing heatwaves that harm aquatic life, altering weather patterns and disrupting crucial planet-regulating systems.

In June, global sea surface temperatures hit unprecedented levels. Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent for the month since satellite observations began, at 17 per cent below average, breaking the previous June record by a substantial margin.

While sea surface temperatures normally recede relatively quickly from annual peaks, this year they stayed high, with scientists warning that this underscores an underappreciated but grave impact of climate change.

‘If the oceans are warming considerably, that has a knock-on effect on the atmosphere, on sea ice and ice worldwide,’ said Michael Sparrow, chief of World Climate Research Programme at the WMO.

‘There’s a lot of concerns from the scientific community and a lot of catch-up from the scientific community trying to understand the incredible changes that we’re seeing at the moment.’

El Nino is a naturally occurring pattern that drives increased heat worldwide, as well as drought in some parts of the world and heavy rains elsewhere.

But Mr Sparrow said its effects would likely be felt more acutely later in the year. ‘El Nino hasn’t really got going yet,’ he said.

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