7/25/2019 1:13:00 PM Heatwave in Europe absolutely baking the continent
PARIS (AP) — Record temperatures are being set across Europe, including Paris, as the continent swelters Thursday in what is its second heat wave this summer.
Climate scientists warn this could become the new normal in many parts of the world. But temperate Europe — where air conditioning is rare — isn’t equipped for the temperatures frying the region this week.
So tourists frolicked in fountains to seek relief, and authorities and volunteers fanned out to help the elderly, sick and homeless hit hardest by the heat. Trains were canceled in Britain and France, and French authorities urged travelers to stay home.
One by one, heat records are being broken across Europe. On Thursday afternoon the Paris area hit 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit), beating the previous record of 40.4 C (104.8 F) set in 1947. Authorities said the temperature was still rising, as a result of hot, dry air coming from northern Africa that’s trapped between cold stormy systems.
The Netherlands and Belgium also reported new record heats and Britain is expected to do so later.
The Netherlands’ meteorological institute said 40.4 C (104.72 F) was recorded Thursday in the municipality of Gilze Rijen, near the border with Belgium. That just eclipsed the 39.3 C (102.74 F) recorded a day earlier in the southern city of Eindhoven.
In Belgium the new all-time high rose to 40.6 C (105. F). “This is the highest recorded temperature for Belgium in history since the beginning of the measurements in 1833,” said Alex Dewalque from the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium.
Britain also expects to breach the 39 C (102 F) mark for the first time after London recording its hottest day on record for July, with the mercury climbing to 36.9 C (98 F) at Heathrow Airport.
The previous July record was 36.7 C (98 F) in 2015, while the all-time record is 38.5 C (101 F) recorded back in August, 2003. Britain’s Met Office said records go back to 1865.
And swaths of Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland could face temperatures exceeding 40 C (104 F).
Germany recorded 40.5 degrees (104.9 F) Wednesday, and the German Weather Service is expecting even higher temperatures Thursday.
In Austria, a 2-year-old died of dehydration in the country’s Styria region after he climbed into an overheated parked car without his family noticing and fell asleep in it.
The Austrian news agency APA reported Thursday that the boy, who climbed into a car parked at the family’s farm on Monday, died at a children’s hospital on Wednesday.
In the Netherlands, a government health institute warned of high levels of smog due to ozone in the air in parts of the country.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment issued a “smog alarm” Thursday for regions including the densely populated cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
The institute said air quality in the some regions will be “extremely bad” because light winds mean that pollution is not being blown away and sunlight transforms it into ozone. The smog can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and leave people coughing and short of breath.
Across Germany, Switzerland and Austria, some communities painted rail tracks in white hoping the light color would bring down the temperature by a few degrees. In Heiligendamm on the Baltic Sea in eastern Germany, train services were canceled temporarily during last month’s heat wave after the tracks were deformed by the heat.
German railways Deutsche Bahn said passengers who had booked tickets for Thursday or Friday and wanted to delay their trips because of the heat could do so until August 4 without extra charge.