Our house is burning. In Europe and all over the world, strong heat waves are observed this Saturday, July 15. One of them is due to fall in the coming days on the Italian peninsula and its islands, as far as Greece, where historic temperature records could be broken.
The south of Italy should indeed experience temperatures slightly above 38°C in Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria and Puglia, with peaks “at 40 degrees and beyond” as in Rome (43°C expected on Sunday July 16) or in Sardinia (48°C), warns the Air Force, the body in charge of forecasts in Italy. The weekend will be “very hot” in many cities in the center and south, “we can reach 40 degrees and beyond, especially on Sunday”, warns the institution.
“The Mediterranean basin and central and southern Italy are covered with a blanket of very hot air”, explains Claudio Cassardo, meteorologist and professor at the University of Turin, in an interview with the daily transalpine Il Messenger. “Unfortunately, this is nothing new: the ongoing climate change makes this type of situation much more frequent and much more intense compared to the past, including recent ones,” he believes.
In the Mediterranean, Greece is also suffering from an increased heat wave, forcing, on Friday July 14, the local authorities to close the Acropolis of Athens during the hottest hours. This closure of the ancient site classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited in Greece was renewed for the entire weekend “for the protection of workers” and “visitors”, explained the minister. of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, in a statement on Greek television. While temperatures of 40°C to 41°C are expected in Athens, “the true temperature felt (…) by the body is considerably higher” at the top of the Acropolis, according to the politician.
The Red Cross deployed on Thursday July 13, at the foot of the Acropolis to distribute “daily at least 30,000 50 cl bottles of water” and come to the aid of tourists who could be victims of sunstroke or fainting spells.
The concerned world as a whole
Other countries, such as Spain, eastern France, Germany and Poland are also facing a large heat wave. North Africa is also affected. In Morocco, which has been experiencing a series of heat waves since the beginning of the summer, a red heat alert has been issued for several provinces.
Asia is not spared. Some regions of China, including the capital Beijing, are also suffering from a strong heat wave. Some areas in eastern Japan are also expected to reach 38-39°C on Sunday July 16 and Monday July 17, according to the local forecaster.
On the other side of the globe, the southern United States is roasting under a heat wave: several tens of millions of Americans from California to Texas experienced dangerously high temperatures on Friday July 14, which are expected to peak in weekend course. Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, recorded its 15th straight day above 43 degrees on Friday, according to the US Weather Services (NWS).
Heat remains one of the deadliest weather events, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last summer, in Europe alone, high temperatures caused more than 60,000 deaths. But in addition to the health problems, the heat waves observed also raise fears of repeated fires. The Greek authorities have notably warned of the high risk of fire, especially in regions where strong winds are expected to blow. Greece had already suffered violent forest fires during the summer of 2021 due to an exceptional heat wave.