Spain suffers hottest day of year as 16 Italian cities put on red alert


Spain suffered its hottest day of the year on Saturday, with temperatures exceeding 45 ° C, while Italian authorities raised the number of cities on red alert for health risks to 16, as a wave heat engulfed southern Europe.

The hottest temperature in the late afternoon was recorded in Ecija, Seville, at 46.5 ° C, far from the country’s historic record of 46.9 ° C reached in Cordoba in July 2017.

Europe’s heat record came to Athens in 1977 at 48 ° C.

In the province of Granada in southern Spain, where the mercury reached 45.4 ° C, few people have ventured outside.

Those who did sought shade and stopped to take pictures of public thermometers showing soaring temperatures.

Ice cream parlors did a quick business, and some restaurants installed sprinklers to spray water mists on sweaty guests.

Miriam Garcia, a student, wished she hadn’t gone out.

“It’s very hot, we have to drink water and put on sunscreen all the time, stopping every now and then for a drink in a bar,” she said. “It would be better to be at home than on the street, it’s so hot.”

People cool off in a public swimming pool in Barcelona (Joan Mateu Parra / AP)

Dominic Roye, climatologist at the University of Santiago de Compostela, said the hot air from the Sahara Desert which has brought days of heat and fueled hundreds of forest fires in Mediterranean countries does not show no sign of ending anytime soon.

“The heatwave we are currently experiencing is very extreme and a lot of people say it is normal, as we are in summer. But it’s not, not that hot, ”Roye said.

With nighttime temperatures expected to exceed 25C across much of Spain, Roye worried about residents who could not afford air conditioning and other vulnerable people, such as the homeless or workers in the home. outdoors.

“The more intense the heat, the higher the risk of death,” he said.

“When you have high nighttime temperatures, our bodies cannot rest.

“The body works and works to cool itself down. We found a strong link between mortality and nighttime temperatures above 20 ° C. “

Children cool off in a fountain in a park in Madrid (Andrea Comas / AP)

Italian authorities have also raised concerns about the elderly and others at risk by expanding heat warnings to 16 cities.

Temperatures in the mid-40s Celsius were forecast for the Sicilian cities of Palermo and Catania, and up to 37 ° C for Rome, Florence and Bologna, all places the health ministry has put on red alert.

Italians sought respite from the sea and the mountains of the aptly named anticyclone Lucifer which brought warm air from Africa during the peak summer holiday weekend in Italy.

The high temperatures were to continue until Sunday, the traditional festival of Ferragosto during the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary, which marks the exodus of the summer holidays from Italian cities.

Lifeguard dogs on the beach of Ostia, on the outskirts of Rome (Cecilia Fabiano / LaPresse / AP)

In Rome, water fountains provided relief, while authorities kept tourists away from ornamental fountains like the famous Trevi Fountain, fearing imitators of Anita Ekberg’s immersion in the film La Dolce Vita.

“I put my head under water at each fountain, I drink a lot, I stay in the shade as much as I can,” said Alessia Pagani, who came from the city of Brescia, in the north of the country.

High humidity accompanied the high temperatures, making it even hotter. Storms in the north are expected to bring the first signs of relief from Monday.

“More than anything else, the fresh Atlantic air will bring freshness and better ventilation that will sweep away moisture and make the air much more breathable,” said Lt. Col. Filippo Petrucci of the weather service of the Italian Air Force on state television RAI.

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