Deadly ‘Lucifer’ heat wave keeps grip on 10 European countries
Rachel Koning Beals
People refresh themselves in a fountain at Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy, this week.
A heat wave nicknamed “Lucifer” blanketed southern and eastern Europe this week and wasn’t budging into the weekend, where temperatures remained above 44 degrees Celsius, approaching 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
The extreme heat produced “red” warnings for 10 countries, including Albania, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, and parts of Spain, France and Italy. The heat spell has brought the highest temps to most of these countries in more than a decade.
The BBC said the heat wave is expected to last until Monday and 26 European cities have issued public health warnings.
Tomorrow the sharp temperature divide across Europe continues, still very hot in the southeast, but peaking this weekend before slow decline pic.twitter.com/QzPDM9FMg6
— Weather Co Europe (@WeatherCoEurope) August 4, 2017
Europe can experience spikes in summer temperatures, but the length of the heat wave over several days was the worrying part. The conditions sparked wildfires, damaged crops and strained energy and water supplies.
Italy and the Balkans were affected the worst, although areas as far north as southern Poland also suffered under abnormally hot temperatures.
At least two people have died from the heat —one in Romania and one in Poland—and many more have been taken to the hospital suffering from sunstroke and other heat-related conditions, Reuters reported.
“In two hours of my shift today I saw four people fainting on the street and complaining of heat exhaustion,” a traffic guard in Belgrade, Serbia, told Reuters.
Spain’s national weather service on Saturday issued an emergency warning for high temperatures in 31 of the country’s 50 provinces as forecasts predicted temperatures of up to 44 C (111.2 F).
Wine growers in Italy started gathering the grape harvest weeks earlier than usual due to the extreme heat, Reuters reported.
In the Alpine nation of Slovenia, authorities reported earlier this week the first-ever “tropical night” at 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) in the mountains, meaning temperatures were higher than 20 C (68 F) during the night, the Associated Press reported.
Western and northern Europe, in contrast, were experiencing colder and wetter weather than is seasonal.
Scientists warned in a report in the Lancet Planetary Health journal issued Friday that Europe’s death toll from weather disasters could rise 50-fold by the year 2100. The researchers cited weather-related disasters, such as heat waves and cold waves, wildfires, droughts, river and coastal floods, and windstorms, which could affect about two-thirds of the European population annually by the end of the century.