London: Another bout of extreme heat and dry weather set to sweep Europe has pushed France and the UK to issues fresh warnings for this week.
The French state forecaster has an amber warning out for parts of the south while the UK Health Security Agency has placed all regions on a level 3 heat alert from midday on August 9 to 6pm on August 13. The more frequent weather extremes are highlighting the effect that a warming climate is having on health and vital infrastructure.
Nations across Europe are struggling to cope with extreme high temperatures, with France registering the driest July on record and England the driest in almost 90 years. Water levels on the Rhine River, a vital artery for the transport of commodities and industrial goods, are so low that trade is at risk of coming to a halt on some sections of the waterway.
The warnings come as sizzling temperatures are expected to hit the UK, Germany and France this week, with temperatures in Paris peaking 34.5 degrees Celsius (94.1 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday, according to Maxar Technologies LLC. The heat wave will be less intense than earlier in summer but will be longer-lasting, staying around until the end of the week in the south of the country, French forecaster Meteo France said.
Although temperatures in the UK aren’t likely to reach the record breaking levels set in July, the thermometers are expected to reach mid-30 degrees Celsius on Friday across the South East, London, the South West, and the East and West Midlands, the health agency said.
“Remember that heat can have a fast impact on health,” said Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health Security Agency. “It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions are prepared for coping during the hot weather.”
Power prices in France and Germany reached record levels on Monday as low wind and heat-related restrictions at coal and nuclear plants boost demand for gas. That’s setting the stage for a more difficult winter as countries rush to store the fuel ahead of winter.
The heat will boost demand for cooling, aggravating the already dry conditions that hurt crops and force limits on water use. The weather has also sparked fires near London, triggered warnings that railway lines could buckle, and forced power stations in Germany and France to operate at low levels to prevent overheating.
The French nuclear regulator has granted a temporary waiver for five nuclear plants to discharge hot water into rivers that may breach environmental standards, an extreme measure to ensure there’s enough electricity.
The German state forecaster DWD, warned that in some areas there is a very high risk of forest fires if the drought conditions persist.
Data from late July shows that 45% of European Union countries are facing drought warning conditions and 15% are at alert levels, the European Drought Observatory says.