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Europe’s heat record is shaky: forest fires in Athens are only partially…

Europe’s heat record is shaky: forest fires in Athens are only partially…

Meteorologists expect new heat records and warn of health risks, as temperatures do not drop low enough, especially at night. There are difficulties in fighting forest fires in Switzerland.

For the second day in a row, the Greek fire brigade is battling several fires that broke out in the greater Athens area on Monday. As a spokesperson announced on Tuesday, firefighting aircraft from Italy and France are expected to reinforce the situation. Two fires that broke out about ten and about 80 kilometers west of Athens on Monday are cause for concern. Meteorologists expect new heat records in the northern hemisphere in the coming days and warn of health risks.

In Greece, fires broke out again in the middle of the day near the resort of Loutraki, east of Athens, due to strong winds. Thick plumes of smoke rose kilometers from the area and can also be seen in satellite images. Firefighting work was also difficult in the mountainous region of Philia, 20 kilometers east of Athens, the fire brigade announced. Many cities had to be evacuated as a precaution. Citizens were summoned by SMS to leave their homes from community service.

Heat and drought: high risk of forest fires

After a rainy and relatively cold spring, the first major vegetation fires broke out in Greece this year on Monday. The Civil Protection had already warned at the weekend: after several days with temperatures above 40 degrees and a longer dry period, the risk of wildfires was very high.

Many countries in the Mediterranean region expected on Tuesday the peak of the most severe summer heat wave so far. According to the European Space Agency ESA, temperatures are expected to reach 48 degrees in the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Italian Meteorological Service warned of “one of the most severe heatwaves on record”.

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Night lows on a record track

According to forecasts of meteorologists, the heat wave in the northern hemisphere, which is constantly breaking new records, will intensify throughout the week. The World Weather Organization (WMO) announced Tuesday that “temperatures in North America, Asia, across North Africa and the Mediterranean will be above 40 degrees on several days this week as the heat wave intensifies.” But the overnight lows will also reach new highs. This also increases heat-related risks for an increasing number of heart attacks and deaths.

“While most attention is focused on daytime altitudes, it is nighttime temperatures that pose the greatest health risks, especially for vulnerable populations,” said the World Meteorological Organization. On Tuesday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach endorsed public health officials’ call to introduce Southern European-style naps in the summer months. “Napping in the heat is definitely not a bad suggestion,” the SPD politician wrote on Twitter. “But employers and employees have to negotiate this themselves.” Medically speaking, such a procedure “certainly makes sense for many professions.”

The official European heat record from 2021

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently officially recognized a heat record for Europe on August 11, 2021 with 48.8°C in Sicily. A year ago, a heat wave hit Europe in record values, and as now, fire brigades in many countries have been battling persistent wildfires.

According to their own assessment, a forest fire in Switzerland should keep the emergency services busy for days. The fire broke out in an area the size of about 140 football fields on a slope above Pecs in canton Valais, according to authorities on Tuesday. It erupted on Monday for reasons still unknown. About 200 residents were moved to safety as a precaution. She added that the gondola has been turned off, and the walking paths have also been partially closed. According to one expert, the wildfire area’s steep terrain, drought and constant winds are accelerating the rapid spread of the fire. (APA / dpa / AFP / Reuters)

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