The heat was so intense that England’s upscale Royal Ascot Racecourse saw a rare change of protocol: Guests were allowed to throw on hats and jackets once royals died.
“Avoid excessive exposure to the sun, moisturize and take care of the most vulnerable so that they do not suffer from heat stroke,” was the advice of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during a fitting event on desertification.
A farm lobby said regions of northern Italy risk losing up to half of their agricultural production due to drought, as lakes and rivers begin to deteriorate dangerously, putting irrigation at risk.
The Italian utility consortium, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, leaving many parts of the vast northern waterway completely dried up.
The heat wave has added pressure on energy systems as demand for air conditioning threatens to drive prices higher, adding to the challenge of building up stocks to protect against any further cuts to Russian gas supplies.
In France, a local official said the Gironde province around Bordeaux has banned public events including concerts and those held indoors without air conditioning.
“Everyone now faces health risks,” Gironde Governor Fabien Buccio told France Bleu radio.
Temperatures in many parts of France hit 40 degrees Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and are expected to peak on Saturday, rising to 41-42 degrees Celsius. A record night temperature for June was set at 26.8°C in Tarascon, southern France.
14 administrative departments were put on high alert, and schoolchildren were asked to stay indoors in these areas. Speed limits have been lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to reduce exhaust emissions and the buildup of harmful smog.
The British Met Office said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures exceeding 32 degrees Celsius in some parts of the southeast.
Parks, pools, and beaches were packed, and while many enjoyed a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions, some were worried, too.
“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining…and I’m boiling here, so something has to change. We need to take precautions about climate change sooner rather than later because it undoubtedly worries us all,” he said. Student Charlie Oxel visits Brighton, south London.
“Now we enjoy it, but in the long run we may sacrifice.”
Mediterranean countries are more and more interested in how climate change will affect their economies and lives.
“The Iberian Peninsula is an increasingly dry region, our rivers are flowing slower and slower,” Spanish leader Sanchez added.
Firefighters are battling wildfires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal worst affected.
In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares were reduced to ash.
A cloud of hot air was avoiding Portugal on Friday, as temperatures were not as high as in other European countries, and Lisbon was likely to reach 27 degrees Celsius.
The Portuguese meteorological agency IPMA said last month was the hottest in 92 years. And she warned that most of the land is suffering from severe drought.
Water levels in reservoirs in Portugal are dropping, and the Bravora Dam is only 15% filled.