Dangerous Heatwave Grips Western Europe
On Friday August 3, 2018, near-record breaking temperatures were reported in Southern Europe where temperatures reached 46°C (115F) in Setúbal near Lisbon. Soaring temperatures were also recorded in Spain causing 3 deaths by heat stroke. The continent-wide heatwave has caused drought and wildfires from Greece to Sweden. As such, in Greece, high winds ignited dangerous wildfires, which killed more than 90 people last month.
On the 4th of August, seeking to prevent more deaths after 114 people were killed in two massive forest blazes last year in Portugal, the Portuguese emergency services issued a red alert until Sunday and urged people to avoid outdoor activities. The hot and dry conditions have caused several wildfires across Portugal. Around 700 firefighters continue to battle the biggest outbreak near Monchique in the Algarve region where a major fire broke out on Friday, consuming more than 1000 hectares (10 km²) of forest and forcing residents from one village to evacuate.
The past month’s heatwave has had reverberations across different countries in Europe. Four nuclear reactors in France were closed down due to the heatwave, in an atempt by the authorities to avoid overheating the rivers that are used to cool the reactors, since warm water can result in mass fish die-offs, and the reoccurrence of such events would eventually lead to an ecological disaster.
A similar situation happened in Germany earlier this week where approx. 5000 kg (11000 pounds) of dead fish was pulled from various rivers due to suffocation. Drought in Germany didn’t only kill fish but it also exposed dozens of hazardous WWII era grenades, mines, as well as other munitions on the Elbe River in Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, where German police have already detonated two anti-tank mines end of July.
In Sweden, temperatures have dropped with rain in some areas after the country’s hottest July in 250 years which caused multiple wildfires. However, Temperatures above 40°C in Spain and Portugal are expected to continue at least until Sunday according to The Met Office. Forecasts also predict temperatures will slightly drop this week with occasional showers in France and Germany.