A record-breaking heatwave is scorching parts of Europe, sparking wildfires and prompting water restrictions. The sweltering temperatures have caused seven deaths so far.
In the southern French village of Gallargues-le-Montueux, temperatures reached 45.9 °C (114.6 °F), the highest ever recorded in France. Across the country, water restrictions have been imposed, and hundreds of schools were closed on Friday. Two cyclists died from heatstroke over the weekend.
The heatwave is also affecting crops, including vineyards.
“The heatwave has also hit the vineyards of Herault, widespread damage observed,” Jerome Despey, a wine producer in France’s southwestern Herault region, reportedly wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of withered grapes.
Temperatures in Spain have been almost as severe, reaching 43.9 °C (111 °F) in the northeastern town of Girona on Friday. Out of Spain’s 50 regions, 40 are under a weather alert, with seven at “extreme risk.” Two heat-related deaths have been reported in the country.
Both France and Spain are also grappling with wildfires, which have burned several thousand acres. Although most of the fires are under control, more than a dozen firefighters were injured, and officials are wary of more blazes.
Intense heat struck Germany and Italy over the weekend as well. Last week, charities in Milan passed out 10,000 free bottles of water to the homeless and others in need in anticipation of the heatwave. The high temperatures have been linked to three deaths in Italy.
Experts warn that the exceptional temperatures in Europe are “absolutely consistent” with weather patterns predicted due to greenhouse gas emissions. Several parts of the continent endured extreme temperatures last summer as well. A German climatology institute reported that Europe’s five hottest summers in the past 500 years have all occurred in the 21st century.
Temperatures are expected to ease, but remain above-average, this week.
Kayla Ritter is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied International Relations and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently based in Manton, Michigan. Kayla enjoys running, writing, and traveling. Contact Kayla Ritter