More than a thousand people have died so far in Spain and Portugal, thousands have been evacuated in the face of wildfires in France, and a “state of emergency” was declared in the UK due to an extreme heat wave sweeping the continent.
In most of Europe, residential air conditioners are rare at best — unlike in Israel, where most homes are equipped with air conditioning since summer temperatures are in the eighties and nineties more often than not.
UK Hit by Record-Breaking Heat Wave
Britain reached its highest temperature ever on Tuesday, with the mercury skyrocketing up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius).
In 2019, the previous record was set at 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7) Fahrenheit.
Initial figures from the UK Meteorological (“Met”) Office recorded 40.2 C at London’s Heathrow Airport at 12:50 pm, and in Charlwood near Gatwick Airport in the south of the country. Temperatures were expected to rise further throughout the day.
The average daytime July temperature in the UK is usually around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But on Monday night, the UK saw its warmest night on record, with temperatures sitting at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
In London, the city’s Fire Brigade declared a major incident with a surge in the number of fires in the British capital.
SCENE IN EAST LONDON DUE TO RECORD HEAT WAVE
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) July 19, 2022
London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the situation as “critical” and said the fire service is under “immense pressure.” One of the fires, in Wennington, required at least 100 firefighters to get it under control.
Train service was halted, airport runways have been damaged and at the country’s zoos, staff resorted to feeding their four-legged charges popsicles. The runway at Luton Airport in London actually melted, multiple British media reported.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC the country has seen “a considerable amount” of travel disruption.
“Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature,” he added.
The British government declared a national “state of emergency” in response to the weather conditions, as the UK Meteorological (“Met”) Office issued a “threat to life” warning nationwide.
Europe Union Faces Flames
In Portugal, temperatures reached 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit) this weekend. Wildfires in the northern part of the country so far this year have consumed 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land.
In Spain, meteorologists recorded soil surface temperatures of 59 degrees Celsius, and more than 3,200 people fled the flames in the Mijas hills, not far from the popular tourist area of Malaga. Wildfires also broke out in the provinces of Castilla y Leon, Galicia and Extremadura.
The Spanish State Meteorological Agency issued weather alerts this weekend warning of temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit) in some areas.
In France, two forest fires destroyed more than 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) of land so far this week; ground temperatures reached as high as 48 degrees Celsius in the south of the country.
More than 16,000 people – residents and tourists – have been evacuated. High temperatures and gusting winds on Sunday further complicated efforts to stop the wildfires from spreading.
The French weather service forecast temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) this week.
In Italy, the government declared a state of emergency in the Po Valley. But flames also raced across the forested hills of Massarosa in the province of Luca, forcing the evacuations of 50 people from their homes, most of them overnight into Tuesday.
Eugenio Giani, president of the Toscana region, wrote in a tweet that a “terrible” fire broke out in Massarosa, where flames had burnt at least 80 hectares of land by midday.
Un #incendio terribile quello scoppiato a #Massarosa.
La nostra sala regionale è pienamente operativa in azione con 4 elicotteri, 2 canadair, decine di squadre AIB e Vigili del Fuoco da tutta la #Toscana, la stima delle fiamme è circa al momento circa 80 ettari. pic.twitter.com/HTzmCZEYqn
— Eugenio Giani (@EugenioGiani) July 19, 2022
The TGR news site wrote that more than 100 hectares of woodland had “gone up in smoke” in the hills of Massarosa.
Oltre cento ettari di bosco andati in fumo sulle colline di Massarosa. Chiusa la bretella che collega l'A11 con la E80 tra Lucca e Viareggio. Al lavoro 4 Canadair, 4 elicotteri e 60 unità dei @vigilidelfuoco. Il fronte di fuoco
è alimentato dal forte vento di maestrale. @TgrRai pic.twitter.com/gcbuwbB7Hk
— Tgr Rai Toscana (@TgrRaiToscana) July 19, 2022
Wildfires were also seen in Turkey, Croatia and Hungary.
Mediterranean Nations Not Spared
More than 1,300 families were evacuated on Monday (July 18) and more than 6,000 hectares of forest were damaged by wildfires raging across northern Morocco.
The worst-hit area was Larache province.
The country’s National Agency for Water and Forests said in a statement, “Around 20 towns have been evacuated in an attempt to maintain lives and property.”
Temperatures in the country have approached 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in recent days, the Anadolou News Agency reported.
In Greece, flames raged on Friday in the Attica region and across the Rethymno region on the island of Crete, according to Crisis24. Residents were advised to evacuate from their homes in the village of Orne.
In Cyprus, fires raged near the Limassol district communities of Pachna and Kyvides, Philenews reported Monday. On Friday, a large fire blazed in Pentakomo. There have been three fires in the area in the past six weeks, Cyprus Mail reported.
While Mother Nature is broiling Europe and the Mediterranean, she is also drowning and cooking New York City.
Flooding and Frying in New York, New Jersey
Heavy downpours in the city turned at least two subway stations into brand-new waterfalls, affecting the third rail and forcing MTA staff to get the pumps out.
Breaking: Major flooding is occurring in Bronx, New York, due to heavy rain. pic.twitter.com/YPAq634HMu
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) July 18, 2022
Flooding that cascaded down the stairs of the 157th Street subway station in Queens was caught on video.
WATERFALL: Heavy rain flooding the NYC subway system. This is in Queens. pic.twitter.com/6BALEZJY5n
— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) July 18, 2022
Train service was suspended at three stations in upper Manhattan after one of the stations was flooded with up to 14 inches of water on the roadbed. Streets in Washington Heights were not spared either: flood waters rose to the top of vehicle tires around Nagle Avenue and in other areas, according to News 12.
In Brooklyn, the Jefferson Street L line station was likewise flooded, with water rushing onto the train platform and then to the tracks below. Service on the Harlem and New Haven lines of the Metro North system was also affected, but by 5 pm, service was back on track, albeit with delays.
Flooding also struck New Jersey, where water raced through the streets of Fair Lawn and other areas.
— Boyd A Loving (@boydaloving) July 18, 2022
But it’s not just flood waters threatening the tri-state area.
A heat advisory is also in effect in New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut, from Tuesday morning (July 19) until at least 8 pm Wednesday night (July 20).
The heat advisory extends, in fact, all the way south to southeast Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. “Hot and humid conditions are expected to continue through Thursday,” the National Weather Service warned.
New York’s Office of Emergency Management activated the city’s cooling centers on Tuesday for the first time this summer, with temperatures expected to reach at least 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 Celsius).
According to the National Weather Service, the heat index could climb as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) by Thursday, and temperatures are likely to stay above 90 F through the weekend and into next week.
“The next several days will bring extreme heat throughout the state with dangerous heat indices potentially reaching into the 100s,” warned New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
By Wednesday, most of the state is expected to be hit with high heat and humidity, with temperatures hovering around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
On Thursday, New York’s downstate regions are likely to experience the most dangerous heat conditions, with heat index values currently expected to break the 100-degree mark.
“As New Yorkers, we take care of one another, so please don’t forget to check on neighbors, especially seniors, those with young children, and people with disabilities,” authorities urged.
People were told to do their best to stay indoors, reduce strenuous activity especially between 11 am and 4 pm, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and to try to spend at least some of the time in air-conditioned areas.
According to the New York State Health Department, heat is the Number One weather-related killer in the United States.