Heatwave set to be Greece’s longest as extreme weather continues in Europe

 The heatwave engulfing Greece is expected to be the longest in the country’s history, with temperatures forecast to reach a 50-year high for July this weekend.

Kostas Lagouvardos, the director of research at the Athens National Observatory, told ERT television: “According to the data, we will probably go through 16-17 days of a heatwave, which has never happened before in our country.” Greece defines a heatwave as a period when temperatures reach or exceed 39C (102F).

The past week has seen extreme heat hit southern Europe, the US and north Africa. Italy experienced its third heatwave of the summer and temperatures are forecast to spike in Spain on Sunday when national elections are being held.

People watch wildfires burn near the village of Pournari, about 25km south-west of Athens, Greece. 

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In the US, Phoenix has had 70 days where temperatures have not dipped below 32C, including a three-week stretch where temperatures reached 43C in the Arizona capital. While in Tunisia, temperatures are 6C to 10C above the average for this time of year.

Athens is expected to be hotter than 40C for at least six to seven days, according to the meteorologist Panagiotis Giannopoulos. Successive days of extreme heat are unusual for the Greek capital.

Government ministries have advised people to work from home where possible and not to go out unnecessarily. Key tourism sites will be closed during the hottest part of the day, including the Acropolis, a world heritage site, which will be shut from midday to 5.30pm every day until Sunday.

A 46-year-old man was reported to have died from heat stroke after being admitted to Chalkida hospital on the central island of Evia. The hospital said cardio-respiratory failure after exposure to high temperatures appeared to be the cause.

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Pedestrians walk during heatwave conditions in Tokyo

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Authorities reported firefighters were still battling 79 forest fires across Greece, with a spokesperson, Vassilios Vathrakoyannis, saying the country would be on a state of alert all weekend.

Strong winds reignite wildfires in Greece, triggering more evacuations – video


Strong winds reignite wildfires in Greece, triggering more evacuations – video

The previous heatwave record in Greece was set in 1987, when scorching temperature lasted 11 days.

Athens’ highest temperature, of 44.8C, was recorded in June 2007, according to the national observatory, with nearby Elefsina recording a national high of 48C in July 1977.

In Sicily, where the European record of 48.8C was registered in August 2021, temperatures reached up to 47C on Tuesday and Wednesday in the area between Mazara del Vallo, in the province of Trapani, and Sciacca, in Agrigento province, according to data from the ilMeteo.it website.

In Spain, Málaga hit 44.2C on Wednesday, matching an all-time record for the southern coastal city, Spain’s weather service said. Temperatures fell on Friday but were forecast to rise again on Sunday. The risk of fires in Spain has remained at high or very high levels.


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